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THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 




"You must steal in and not wake anybody 15 

{Page 270) 



THE 

BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



BY 

MAEY E. iWILKINS FREEMAN 

AUTHOR OF 

"A Humble Romance/' "A New England Nun, f 
"The Winning Lady," etc. 




NEW YORK 
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 
1912 



Copyright, 1911-1912, By 
The Crowell Publishing Company 
(as THE POOR LADY) 

Copyright, 1912, 
By DODD, MEAD & COMPANY 

Published, February, 1912 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



You must steal in and not wake 
anybody Frontispiece 

Facing page 

He was doomed by his own lack of 
thought to sit through an espec- 
ially long session 34 

I almost wish you had not found 
it 118 

They leaned together over the yel- 
low cat and kissed each other . 240 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



CHAPTER I 



Faibbbidge, the little New Jersey village, or 
rather city (for it had won municipal govern- 
ment some years before, in spite of the protest 
of far-seeing citizens who descried in the dis- 
tance bonded debts ont of proportion to the 
tiny shoulders of the place), was a misnomer. 
Often a person, being in Fairbridge for the first 
time, and being driven by way of entertainment 
about the rural streets, would inquire, "Why 
Fairbridge?" 

Bridges there were none, except those over 
which the trains thundered to and from New 
York, and the adjective, except to old inhabi- 
tants who had a curious fierce loyalty for the 
place, did not seemingly apply. Fairbridge 
could hardly, by an unbiassed person who did 
not dwell in the little village and view its fea- 
tures through the rosy glamour of home life, 
be called "fair." There were a few pretty 
streets, with well-kept sidewalks, and ambi- 
tious, although small houses, and there were 



2 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



many lovely bits of views to be obtained, espe- 
cially in the green flush of spring, and the red 
glow of autumn over the softly swelling New 
Jersey landscape with its warm red soil to the 
distant rise of low blue hills ; but it was not fair 
enough in a general way to justify its name. 
Yet Fairbridge it was, without bridge, or nat- 
ural beauty, and no mortal knew why. The 
origin of the name was lost in the petty mist of 
a petty past. 

Fairbridge was tragically petty, inasmuch as 
it saw itself great. In Fairbridge narrowness 
reigned, nay, tyrannised, and was not recog- 
nised as such. There was something fairly un- 
canny about Fairbridge 's influence upon peo- 
ple after they had lived there even a few years. 
The influence held good, too, in the cases of 
men who daily went to business or professions 
in New York. Even Wall Street was no sine- 
cure. Back they would come at night, and the 
terrible, narrow maelstrom of pettiness sucked 
them in. All outside interest was as naught. 
International affairs seemed insignificant when 
once one was really in Fairbridge. 

Fairbridge, although rampant when local 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 3 



politics were concerned, had no regard what- 
ever for those of the nation at large, except as 
they involved Fairbridge. Fairbridge, to its 
own understanding, was a nucleus, an ultima- 
tum. It was an example of the triumph of the 
infinitesimal. It saw itself through a micro- 
scope and loomed up gigantic. Fairbridge was 
like an insect, born with the conviction that it 
was an elephant. There was at once something 
ludicrous, and magnificent, and terrible about 
it. It had the impressiveness of the abnormal 
and prehistoric. In one sense, it was prehis- 
toric. It was as a giant survivor of a degen- 
erate species. 

Withal, it was puzzling. People if pinned 
down could not say why, in Fairbridge, the lit- 
tle was so monstrous, whether it depended 
upon local conditions, upon the general popula- 
tion, or upon a few who had an undue estima- 
tion of themselves and all connected with them. 
Was Fairbridge great because of its inhabi- 
tants, or were the inhabitants great because of 
Fairbridge? Who could say? And why was 
Fairbridge so important that its very smallness 
overwhelmed that which, by the nature of 



4 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



things, seemed overwhelming? Nobody knew, 
or rather, so tremendous was the power of the 
small in the village, that nobody inquired. 

It is entirely possible that had there been 
any delicate gauge of mentality, the actual 
swelling of the individual in his own estimation 
as he neared Fairbridge after a few hours' ab- 
sence, might have been apparent. Take a 
broker on Wall Street, for instance, or a lawyer 
who had threaded his painful way to the dim 
light of understanding through the intricate 
mazes of the law all day, as his train neared 
his loved village. From an atom that went to 
make up the motive power of a great metrop- 
olis, he himself became an entirety. He was 
It with a capital letter. No wonder that under 
the circumstances Fairbridge had charms that 
allured, that people chose it for suburban resi- 
dences, that the small, ornate, new houses with 
their perky little towers and aesthetic diamond- 
paned windows, multiplied. 

Fairbridge was in reality very artistically 
planned as to the sites of its houses. Instead 
of the regulation Main Street of the country 
village, with its centre given up to shops and 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 5 



post-office, side streets wound here and there, 
and houses were placed with a view to effect. 

The Main Street of Fairbridge was as 
naught from a social point of view. Nobody 
of any social importance lived there. Even 
the physicians had their residences and offices 
in a more aristocratic locality. Upon the 
Main Street proper, that which formed the 
centre of the village, there were only shops and 
a schoolhouse and one or two mean public 
buildings. For a village of the self-impor- 
tance of Fairbridge, the public buildings were 
very few and very mean. There was no city 
hall worthy of the name of this little city which 
held its head so high. The City Hall, so desig- 
nated by ornate gilt letters upon the glass 
panel of a very small door, occupied part of 
the building in which was the post-office. It 
was a tiny building, two stories high. On the 
second floor was the millinery shop of Mrs. 
Creevy, and behind it the two rooms in which 
she kept house with her daughter Jessy. 

On the lower floor was the post-office on the 
right, filthy with the foot tracks of the Fair- 
bridge children who crowded it in a noisy rab- 



6 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



ble twice a day, and perpetually red-stained 
with the shale of New Jersey, brought in upon 
the boots of New Jersey farmers, who always 
bore about with them a goodly portion of their 
native soil. On the left, was the City Hall. 
This was vacant except upon the first Monday 
of every month, when the janitor of the Dutch 
Reformed Church, who eked out a scanty salary 
with divers other tasks, got himself to work, 
and slopped pails of water over the floor, then 
swept, and built a fire, if in winter. 

[Upon the evenings of these first Mondays the 
Mayor and city officials met and made great 
talk over small matters, and with the labouring 
of a mountain, brought forth mice. The City 
Hall was closed upon other occasions, unless 
the village talent gave a play for some local 
benefit. Fairbridge was intensely dramatic, 
and it was popularly considered that great, 
natural, histrionic gifts were squandered upon 
the Fairbridge audiences, appreciative though 
they were. Outside talent was never in evi- 
dence in Fairbridge. No theatrical company 
had ever essayed to rent that City Hall. Peo- 
ple in Fairbridge put that somewhat humili- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 7 



ating fact from their minds. Nothing would 
have induced a loyal citizen to admit that Fair- 
bridge was too small game for such purposes. 
There was a tiny theatre in the neighbouring 
city of Axininister, which had really some 
claims to being called a city, from tradition 
and usage, aside from size. Axminister was 
an ancient Dutch city, horribly uncomfortable, 
but exceedingly picturesque. Fairbridge looked 
down upon it, and seldom patronised the shows 
(they never said "plays") staged in its min- 
iature theatre. "When they did not resort to 
their own City Hall for entertainment by local 
talent, they arrayed themselves in their best 
and patronised New York itself. 

New York did not know that it was patron- 
ised, but Fairbridge knew. When Mr. and 
Mrs. George B. Slade boarded the seven 
o'clock train, Mrs. Slade, tall, and majestically 
handsome, arrayed most elegantly, and 
crowned with a white hat (Mrs. Slade always 
affected white hats with long drooping plumes 
upon such occasions), and George B., natty in 
his light top coat, standing well back upon the 
heels of his shiny shoes, with the air of the 



8 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



wealthy and well-assured, holding a belted 
cigar in the tips of his grey-gloved fingers, 
New York was most distinctly patronised, al- 
though without knowing it. 

It was also patronised, and to a greater ex- 
tent, by little Mrs. Wilbur Edes, very little in- 
deed, so little as to be almost symbolic of Fair- 
bridge itself, but elegant in every detail, so ele- 
gant as to arrest the eye of everybody as she 
entered the train, holding up the tail of her 
black lace gown. Mrs. Edes doted on black 
lace. Her small, fair face peered with a curi- 
ous calm alertness from under the black 
plumes of her great picture hat, perched side- 
wise upon a carefully waved pale gold pompa- 
dour, which was perfection and would have done 
credit to the best hairdresser or the best French 
maid in New York, but which was achieved 
solely by Mrs. Wilbur Edes' own native wit 
and skilful fingers. 

Mrs. Wilbur Edes, although small, was mas- 
terly in everything, from waving a pompadour 
to conducting theatricals. She herself was the 
star dramatic performer of Fairbridge. 
ffhere was a strong feeling in Fairbridge that 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 9 



in reality she might, if she chose, rival Bern- 
hardt. Mrs. Emerston Strong, who had been 
abroad and had seen Bernhardt on her native 
soil, had often said that Mrs. Edes reminded 
her of the great French actress, although she 
was much handsomer, and so moral! Mrs. 
"Wilbur Edes was masterly in morals, as in 
everything else. She was much admired by the 
opposite sex, but she was a model wife and 
mother. 

Mr. Wilbur Edes was an admired accessory 
of his wife. He was so very tall and slender 
as to suggest forcible elongation. He carried 
his head with a deprecatory, sidewise air as if 
in accordance with his wife's picture hat, and 
yet Mr. Wilbur Edes, out of Fairbridge and in 
his law office on Broadway, was a man among 
men. He was an exception to the personal 
esteem which usually expanded a male citizen 
of Fairbridge, but he was the one and only hus- 
band of Mrs. Wilbur Edes, and there was not 
room at such an apex as she occupied for more 
than one. Tall as Wilbur Edes was, he was 
overshadowed by that immaculate blond 
pompadour and that plumed picture hat. He 



10 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



was a prime favourite in Fairbridge society; 
he was liked and admired, but his radiance was 
reflected, and he was satisfied that it should be 
so. He adored his wife. The shadow of her 
black picture hat was his place of perfect con- 
tent. He watched the admiring glances of 
other men at his wonderful possession with a 
triumph and pride which made him really 
rather a noble sort. He was also so fond and 
proud of his little twin daughters, Maida and 
Adelaide, that the fondness and pride fairly 
illuminated his inner self. Wilbur Edes was a 
clever lawyer, but love made him something 
bigger. It caused him to immolate self, which 
is spiritually enlarging self. 

In one respect "Wilbur Edes was the biggest 
man in Fairbridge; in another, Doctor Sturte- 
vant was. Doctor Sturtevant depended upon 
no other person for his glory. He shone as a 
fixed star, with his own lustre. He was es- 
teemed a very great physician indeed, and it 
was considered that Mrs. Sturtevant, who was 
good, and honest, and portly with a tight, mid- 
dle-aged portliness, hardly lived up to her hus- 
band. It was admitted that she tried, poor 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 11 



soul, but her limitations were held to be impos- 
sible, even by her faithful straining following 
of love. 

When the splendid, florid Doctor, with his 
majestically curving expanse of waistcoat and 
his inscrutable face, whirred through the 
streets of Fairbridge in his motor car, with 
that meek bulk of womanhood beside him, 
many said quite openly how unfortunate it was 
that Doctor Sturtevant had married, when so 
young, a woman so manifestly his inferior. 
They never failed to confer that faint praise, 
which is worse than none at all, upon the poor 
soul. 

" She is a good woman," they said. "She 
means well, and she is a good housekeeper, 
but she is no companion for a man like that." 

Poor Mrs. Sturtevant was aware of her 
status in Fairbridge, and she was not without 
a steady, plodding ambition of her own. That 
utterly commonplace, middle-aged face had 
some lines of strength. Mrs. Sturtevant was 
a member of the women's club of Fairbridge, 
which was poetically and cleverly called the 
Zenith Club. 



12 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



She wrote, whenever it was her turn to do 
so, papers upon every imaginable subject. 
She balked at nothing whatever. She ranged 
from household discussions to the Orient. 
Then she stood up in the midst of the women, 
sunk her double chin in her lace collar, and 
read her paper in a voice like the whisper of a 
blade of grass. Doctor Sturtevant had a very 
low voice. His wife had naturally a strident 
one, but she essayed to follow him in the mat- 
ter of voice, as in all other things. The poor 
hen bird tried to voice her thoughts like her 
mate, and the result was a strange and weird 
note. However, Mrs. Sturtevant herself was 
not aware of the result. "When she sat down 
after finishing her papers her face was always 
becomingly flushed with pleasure. 

Nothing, not even pleasure, was becoming to 
Mrs. Sturtevant. Life itself was unbecoming 
to her, and the worst of it was nobody knew 
it, and everybody said it was due to Mrs. Stur- 
tevant 's lack of taste, and then they pitied the 
great doctor anew. It was very fortunate that 
it never occurred to Mrs. Sturtevant to pity 
the doctor on her account, for she was so fond 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 13 



of him, poor soul, that it might have led to a 
tragedy. 

The Zenith Club of Fairbridge always met 
on Friday afternoons. It was a cherished aim 
of the Club to uproot foolish superstitions, 
hence Friday. It did not seem in the least 
risky to the ordinary person for a woman to 
attend a meeting of the Zenith Club on a Fri- 
day, in preference to any other day in the 
week; but many a member had a covert feeling 
that she was somewhat heroic, especially if the 
meeting was held at the home of some distant 
member on an icy day in winter, and she was 
obliged to make use of a livery carriage. 

There were in Fairbridge three keepers of 
livery stables, and curiously enough, no rivalry 
between them. All three were natives of the 
soil, and somewhat sluggish in nature, like its 
sticky red shale. They did not move with 
much enthusiasm, neither were they to be easily 
removed. When the New York trains came in, 
they, with their equally indifferent drivers, sat 
comfortably ensconced in their carriages, and 
never waylaid the possible passengers alight- 
ing from the train. Sometimes they did not 



14 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

even open the carriage doors, but they, how- 
ever, saw to it that they were closed when once 
the passenger was within, and that was some- 
thing. All three drove indifferent horses, 
somewhat uncertain as to footing. "When a 
woman sat behind these weak-kneed, badly 
shod steeds and realised that Stumps, or Fitz- 
gerald, or Witless was driving with an utter 
indifference to the tightening of lines at dan- 
gerous places, and also realised that it was 
Friday, some strength of character was doubt- 
less required. 

One Friday in January, two young women, 
one married, one single, one very pretty, and 
both well-dressed (most of the women who be- 
longed to the Fairbridge social set dressed 
well) were being driven by Jim Fitzgerald a 
distance of a mile or more, up a long hill. The 
slope was gentle and languid, like nearly every 
slope in that part of the state, but that day it 
was menacing with ice. It was one smooth 
glaze over the macadam. Jim Fitzgerald, a 
descendant of a fine old family whose type had 
degenerated, sat hunched upon the driver's 
seat, his loose jaw hanging, his eyes absent, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 15 



his month open, chewing with slow enjoyment 
his beloved quid, while the reins lay slackly on 
the rusty black robe tucked over his knees. 
Even a corner of that dragged dangerously 
near the right wheels of the coupe. Jim had 
not sufficient energy to tuck it in firmly, al- 
though the wind was sharp from the northwest. 

Alice Mendon paid no attention to it, but her 
companion, Daisy Shaw, otherwise Mrs. Sum- 
ner Shaw, who was of the tense, nervous type, 
had remarked it uneasily when they first 
started. She had rapped vigorously upon the 
front window, and a misty, rather beautiful 
blue eye had rolled interrogatively over Jim's 
shoulder. 

"Your robe is dragging," shrieked in shrill 
staccato Daisy Shaw ; and there had been a dull 
nod of the head, a feeble pull at the dragging 
robe, then it had dragged again. 

"Oh, don't mind, dear," said Alice Mendon. 
"It is his own lookout if he loses the robe." 

"It isn't that," responded Daisy queru- 
lously. "It isn't that. I don't care, since he 
is so careless, if he does lose it, but I must say 
that I don't think it is safe. Suppose it got 



16 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



caught in the wheel, and I know this horse 
stumbles." 

11 Don't worry, dear," said Alice Mendon. 
"Fitzgerald's robe always drags, and nothing 
ever happens." 

Alice Mendon was a young woman, not a 
young girl (she had left young girlhood behind 
several years since) and she was distinctly 
beautiful after a fashion that is not easily af- 
fected by the passing years. She had had 
rather an eventful life, but not an event, pleas- 
ant or otherwise, had left its mark upon the 
smooth oval of her face. There was not a side 
nor retrospective glance to disturb the seren- 
ity of her large blue eyes. Although her eyes 
were blue, her hair was almost chestnut black, 
except in certain lights, when it gave out 
gleams as of dark gold. Her features were 
full, her figure large, but not too large. She 
wore a dark red tailored gown ; and sumptuous 
sable furs shaded with dusky softness and shot, 
in the sun, with prismatic gleams, set off her 
handsome, not exactly smiling, but serenely 
beaming face. Two great black ostrich plumes 
and one red one curled down toward the soft 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 17 



spikes of the fur. Between, the two great blue 
eyes, the soft oval of the cheeks, and the pleas- 
ant red fulness of the lips appeared. 

Poor Daisy Shaw, who was poor in two 
senses, strength of nerve and money, looked 
blue and cold in her little black suit, and her 
pale blue liberty scarf was horribly inadequate 
and unbecoming. Daisy was really painful to 
see as she gazed out apprehensively at the 
dragging robe, and the glistening slant over 
which they were moving. Alice regarded her 
not so much with pity as with a calm, shelter- 
ing sense of superiority and strength. She 
pulled the inner robe of the coupe up and 
tucked it firmly around Daisy's thin knees. 

"You look half frozen," said Alice. 

"I don't mind being frozen, but I do mind 
being scared," replied Daisy sharply. She re- 
moved the robe with a twitch. 

"If that old horse stumbles and goes down 
and kicks, I want to be able to get out without 
being all tangled up in a robe and dragged," 
said she. 

"While the horse is kicking and down I don't 
see how he can drag you very far," said Alice 



18 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



with a slight laugh. Then the horse stumbled. 
Daisy Shaw knocked quickly on the front win- 
dow with her little, nervous hand in its tight, 
white kid glove. 

"Do please hold your reins tighter," she 
called. Again the misty blue eyes rolled about, 
the head nodded, the rotary jaws were seen, 
the robe dragged, the reins lay loosely. 

"That wasn't a stumble worth mentioning, " 
said Alice Mendon. 

"I wish he would stop chewing and drive," 
said poor Daisy Shaw vehemently. "I wish 
we had a liveryman as good as that Dougherty 
in Axminister. I was making calls there the 
other day, and it was as slippery as it is now, 
and he held the reins up tight every minute. 
I felt safe with him." 

"I don't think anything will happen." 

"It does seem to me if he doesn't stop chew- 
ing, and drive, I shall fly ! " said Daisy. 

Alice regarded her with a little wonder. 
Such anxiety concerning personal safety rather 
puzzled her. "My horses ran away the other 
day, and Dick went down flat and barked his 
knees; that's why I have Fitzgerald to-day," 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 19 



said she. "I was not hurt. Nobody was hurt 
except the horse. I was very sorry about the 
horse.' ' 

"I wish I had an automobile," said Daisy. 
"You never know what a horse will do next." 

Alice laughed again slightly. "There is a 
little doubt sometimes as to what an automobile 
will do next, 9 ' she remarked. 

"Well, it is your own brain that controls it, 
if you can run it yourself, as you do." 

"I am not so sure. Sometimes I wonder if 
the automobile hasn't an uncanny sort of brain 
itself. Sometimes I wonder how far men can 
go with the invention of machinery without 
putting more of themselves into it than they 
bargain for," said Alice. Her smooth face did 
not contract in the least, but was brooding with 
speculation and thought. 

Then the horse stumbled again, and Daisy 
screamed, and again tapped the window. 

"He won't go way down," said Alice. "I 
think he is too stiff. Don't worry." 

"There is no stumbling to worry about with 
an automobile," said Daisy. 

"You couldn't use one on this hill without 



20 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



more risk than you take with a stumbling 
horse," replied Alice. Just then a carriage 
drawn by two fine bays passed them, and there 
was an interchange of nods. 

" There is Mrs. Sturtevant," said Alice. 
"She isn't using the automobile to-day. " 

"Doctor Sturtevant has had that coachman 
thirty years, and he doesn't chew, he drives," 
said Daisy. 

Then they drew up before the house which 
was their destination, Mrs. George B. Slade's. 
The house was very small, but perkily pre- 
tentious, and they drove under the porte-cochere 
to alight. 

"I heard Mr. Slade had been making a great 
deal of money in cotton lately," Daisy whis- 
pered, as the carriage stopped behind Mrs. 
Sturtevant 's. "Mr. and Mrs. Slade went to 
the opera last week. I heard they had taken a 
box for the season, and Mrs. Slade had a new 
black velvet gown and a pearl necklace. I 
think she is almost too old to wear low neck." 

"She is not so very old," replied Alice. "It 
is only her white hair that makes her seem so." 
Then she extended a rather large but well 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 21 



gloved hand and opened the coupe door, while 
Jim Fitzgerald sat and chewed and waited, and 
the two young women got out. Daisy had 
some trouble in holding up her long skirts. 
She tugged at them with nervous energy, and 
told Alice of the twenty-five cents which Fitz- 
gerald would ask for the return trip. She had 
wished to arrive at the club in fine feather, but 
had counted on walking home in the dusk, with 
her best skirts high-kilted, and saving an hon- 
est penny. 

"Nonsense; of course you will go with me," 
said Alice in the calmly imperious way she had, 
and the two mounted the steps. They had 
scarcely reached the door before Mrs. Slade's 
maid, Lottie, appeared in her immaculate width 
of apron, with carefully-pulled-out bows and 
little white lace top-knot. "Upstairs, front 
room," she murmured, and the two went up the 
polished stairs. There was a landing halfway, 
with a diamond paned window and one rubber 
plant and two palms, all very glossy, and all 
three in nice green jardinieres which exactly 
matched the paper on the walls of the hall. 
Mrs. George B. Slade had a mania for exactly 



22 THE BUTTEKFLY HOUSE 



matching things. Some of her friends said 
among themselves that she carried it almost 
too far. 

The front room, the guest room, into which 
Alice Mendon and Daisy Shaw passed, was 
done in yellow and white, and one felt almost 
sinful in disturbing the harmony by any other 
tint. The walls were yellow, with a frieze of 
garlands of yellow roses ; the ceiling was tinted 
yellow, the tiles on the shining little hearth 
were yellow, every ornament upon the mantel- 
shelf was yellow, down to a china shepherdess 
who wore a yellow china gown and carried a 
basket filled with yellow flowers, and bore a yel- 
low crook. The bedstead was brass, and 
there was a counterpane of white lace over yel- 
low, the muslin curtains were tied back with 
great bows of yellow ribbon. Even the pic- 
tures represented yellow flowers or maidens 
dressed in yellow. The rugs were yellow, the 
furniture upholstered in yellow, and all of ex- 
actly the same shade. 

There were a number of ladies in this yellow 
room, prinking themselves before going down- 
stairs. They all lived in Fairbridge; they all 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 23 



knew each other ; but they greeted one another 
with the most elegant formality. Alice as- 
sisted Daisy Shaw to remove her coat and lib- 
erty scarf, then she shook herself free of her 
own wraps, rather than removed them. She 
did not even glance at herself in the glass. 
Her reason for so doing was partly confidence 
in her own appearance, partly distrust of the 
glass. She had viewed herself carefully in her 
own looking-glass before she left home. She 
believed in what she had seen there, but she did 
not care to disturb that belief, and she saw that 
Mrs. Slade's mirror over her white and yellow 
draped dressing table stood in a cross-light. 
While all admitted Alice Mendon's beauty, no- 
body had ever suspected her of vanity ; yet van- 
ity she had, in a degree. 

The other women in the room looked at her. 
It was always a matter of interest to Fair- 
bridge what she would wear, and this was 
rather curious, as, after all, she had not many 
gowns. There was a certain impressiveness 
about her mode of wearing the same gown 
which seemed to create an illusion. To-day in 
her dark red gown embroidered with poppies of 



24 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

still another shade, she created a distinctly new 
impression, although she had worn the same 
costume often before at the club meetings. 
She went downstairs in advance of the other 
women who had arrived before, and were yet 
anxiously peering at themselves in the cross- 
lighted mirror, and being adjusted as to re- 
fractory neckwear by one another. 

When Alice entered Mrs. Slade's elegant lit- 
tle reception-room, which was done in a dull 
rose colour, its accessories very exactly match- 
ing, even to Mrs. Slade's own costume, which 
was rose silk under black lace, she was led at 
once to a lady richly attired in black, with 
gleams of jet, who was seated in a large chair 
in the place of honour, not quite in the bay win- 
dow but exactly in the centre of the opening. 
The lady quite filled the chair. She was very 
stout. Her face, under an ornate black hat, 
was like a great rose full of overlapping curves 
of florid flesh. The wide mouth was perpetu- 
ally curved into a bow of mirth, the small black 
eyes twinkled. She was Mrs. Sarah Joy Sny- 
der, who had come from New York to deliver 
her famous lecture upon the subject: " Where 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 25 



does a woman shine with more lustre, at Home 
or abroad?" 

The programme was to be varied, as usual 
upon such occasions, by local talent. Leila 
MacDonald, who sang contralto in the church 
choir, and Mrs. Arthur Wells, who sang so- 
prano, and Mrs. Jack Evarts, who played the pi- 
ano very well, and Miss Sally Anderson, who 
had taken lessons in elocution, all had their 
parts, besides the president of the club, Mrs. 
Wilbur Edes, who had a brief address in readi- 
ness, and the secretary, who had to give the 
club report for the year. Mrs. Snyder was to 
give her lecture as a grand climax, then there 
were to be light refreshments and a reception 
following the usual custom of the club. 

Alice bowed before Mrs. Snyder and re- 
treated to a window at the other side of the 
room. She sat beside the window and looked 
out. Just then one of the other liverymen 
drove up with a carriage full of ladies, and 
they emerged in a flutter of veils and silk 
skirts. Mrs. Slade, who was really superb in 
her rose silk and black lace, with an artful frill 
of white lace at her throat to match her great 



26 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



puff of white hair, remained beside Mrs. Sny- 
der, whose bow of mirth widened. 

"Who is that magnificent creature?" whis- 
pered Mrs. Snyder with a gush of enthusiasm, 
indicating Alice beside the window. 

"She lives here," replied Mrs. Slade rather 
stupidly. She did not quite know how to de- 
fine Alice. 

"Lives here in this little place? Not all the 
year?" rejoined Mrs. Snyder. 

"Fairbridge is a very good place to live in 
all the year," replied Mrs. Slade rather stiffly. 
"It is near New York. We have all the advan- 
tages of a great metropolis without the draw- 
backs. Fairbridge is a most charming city, 
and very progressive, yes, very progressive." 

Mrs. Slade took it rather hardly that Mrs. 
Snyder should intimate anything prejudicial to 
Fairbridge and especially that it was not good 
enough for Alice Mendon, who had been born 
there, and lived there all her life except the 
year she had been in college. If anything, she, 
Mrs. Slade, wondered if Alice Mendon were 
good enough for Fairbridge. What had she 
ever done, except to wear handsome costumes 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 27 

and look handsome and self-possessed? Al- 
though she belonged to the Zenith Club, no 
power on earth could induce her to discharge 
the duties connected herewith, except to pay 
her part of the expenses, and open her house 
for a meeting. She simply would not write a 
paper upon any interesting and instructive 
topic and read it before the club, and she was 
not considered gifted. She could not sing like 
Leila MacDonald and Mrs. Arthur Wells. She 
could not play like Mrs. Jack Evarts. She 
could not recite like Sally Anderson. 

Mrs. Snyder glanced across at Alice, who 
looked very graceful and handsome, although 
also, to a discerning eye, a little sulky, and 
bored with a curious, abstracted boredom. 

"She is superb," whispered Mrs. Snyder, 
"yes, simply superb. Why does she live here, 
pray?" 

"Why, she was Horn here," replied Mrs. 
Slade, again stupidly. It was as if Alice had 
no more motive power than a flowering bush. 

Mrs. Snyder's bow of mirth widened into a 
laugh. "Well, can't she get away, even if she 
was born here?" said she. 



28 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



However, Mrs. George B. Slade 's mind trav- 
elled in such a circle that she was difficult to 
corner. "Why should she want to move,?" 
said she. 

Mrs. Snyder laughed again. "But, granting 
she should want to move, is there anything to 
hinder?" she asked. She wasn't a very clever 
woman, and was deciding privately to mimic 
Mrs. George B. Slade at some future occasion, 
and so eke out her scanty remuneration. She 
did not think ten dollars and expenses quite 
enough for such a lecture as hers. 

Mrs. Slade looked at her perplexedly. 
"Why, yes, she could I suppose," said she, 
"but why?" 

"What has hindered her before now!" 

"Oh, her mother was a helpless invalid, and 
Alice was the only child, and she had been in 
college just a year when her father died, then 
she came home and lived with her mother, but 
her mother has been dead two years now, and 
Alice has plenty of money. Her father left 
a good deal, and her cousin and aunt live with 
her. Oh, yes, she could, but why should she 
want to leave Fairbridge, and — M 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 29 

Then some new arrivals approached, and the 
discussion concerning Alice Mendon ceased. 
The ladies came rapidly now. Soon Mrs. 
Slade's hall, reception-room, and dining-room, 
in which a gaily-decked table was set, were 
thronged with women whose very skirts seemed 
full of important anticipatory stirs and rus- 
tles. Mrs. Snyder's curved smile became set, 
her eyes absent. She was revolving her lec- 
ture in her mind, making sure that she could 
repeat it without the assistance of the notes in 
her petticoat pocket. 

Then a woman rang a little silver bell, and a 
woman who sat short but rose to unexpected 
heights stood up. The phenomenon was amaz- 
ing, but all the Fairbridge ladies had seen Miss 
Bessy Dicky, the secretary of the Zenith Club, 
rise before, and no one observed anything re- 
markable about it. Only Mrs. Snyder's mouth 
twitched a little, but she instantly recovered 
herself and fixed her absent eyes upon Miss 
Bessy Dicky's long, pale face as she began to 
read the report of the club for the past year. 

She had been reading several minutes, her 
glasses fixed firmly (one of her eyes had a cast} 



30 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



and her lean, veinous hands trembling with ex- 
citement, when the door bell rang with a sharp 
peremptory peal. There was a little flutter 
among the ladies. Such a thing had never hap- 
pened before. Fairbridge ladies were re- 
nowned for punctuality, especially at a meeting 
like this, and in any case, had one been late, 
she would never have rung the bell. She would 
have tapped gently on the door, the white- 
capped maid would have admitted her, and she, 
knowing she was late and hearing the hollow 
recitative of Miss Bessy Dicky's voice, would 
have tiptoed upstairs, then slipped delicately 
down again and into a place near the door. 

But now it was different. Lottie opened the 
door, and a masculine voice was heard. Mrs. 
Slade had a storm-porch, so no one could look 
directly into the hall. 

i 1 Is Mrs. Slade at home?' ' inquired the voice 
distinctly. The ladies looked at one another, 
and Miss Bessy Dicky's reading was unheard. 
They all knew who spoke. Lottie appeared 
with a crimson face, bearing a little ostentatious 
silver plate with a card. Mrs. Slade adjusted 
her lorgnette, looked at the card, and appeared 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 31 



to hesitate for a second. Then a look of calm 
determination overspread her face. She whis- 
pered to Lottie, and presently appeared a young 
man in clerical costume, moving between the 
seated groups of ladies with an air not so much 
of embarrassment as of weary patience, as if 
he had expected something like this to happen, 
and it had happened. 

Mrs. Slade motioned to a chair near her, 
which Lottie had placed, and the young man sat 
down. 



CHAPTEE II 

Many things were puzzling in Fairbridge, that 
is, puzzling to a person with a logical turn of 
mind. For instance, nobody could say that 
Fairbridge people were not religious. It was 
a church going community, and five denomina- 
tions were represented in it; nevertheless, the 
professional expounders of its doctrines were 
held in a sort of gentle derision, that is, unless 
the expounder happened to be young and eli- 
gible from a matrimonial point of view, when 
he gained a certain fleeting distinction. Other- 
wise the clergy were regarded (in very much 
the same light as if employed by a railroad) 
as the conductors of a spiritual train of cars 
bound for the Promised Land. They were ad- 
mittedly engaged in a cause worthy of the high- 
est respect and veneration. The Cause com- 
manded it, not they. They had always lacked 
social prestige in Fairbridge, except, as before 
stated, in the cases of the matrimonially eli- 
gible. 

32 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 33 



Dominie von Eosen came tinder that head. 
Consequently he was for the moment, fleeting 
as everybody considered it, in request. But he 
did not respond readily to the social patronage 
of Fairbridge. He was, seemingly, quite ob- 
livious to its importance. Karl von Rosen was 
bored to the verge of physical illness by Fair- 
bridge functions. Even a church affair found 
him wearily to the front. Therefore his pres- 
ence at the Zenith Club was unprecedented and 
confounding. He had often been asked to at- 
tend its special meetings but had never ac- 
cepted. Now, however, here he was, caught 
neatly in the trap of his own carelessness. 
Karl von Rosen should have reflected that the 
Zenith Club was one of the institutions of Fair- 
bridge, and met upon a Friday, and that Mrs. 
George B. Slade's house was an exceedingly 
likely rendezvous, but he was singularly absent- 
minded as to what was near, and very present 
minded as to what was afar. That which 
should have been near was generally far to his: 
mind, which was perpetually gathering the 
wool of rainbow sheep in distant pastures. 

If there was anything in which Karl von 



34 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



Eosen did not take the slightest interest, it was 
women's clubs in general and the Zenith Club 
in particular ; and here he was, doomed by his 
own lack of thought to sit through an especially; 
long session. He had gone out for a walk. To 
his mind it was a fine winter's day. The long, 
glittering lights of ice pleased him and when- 
ever he was sure that he was unobserved he 
took a boyish run and long slide. During his 
walk he had reached Mrs. Slade's house, and 
since he worked in his pastoral calls whenever 
he could, by applying a sharp spur to his dis- 
inclination, it had occurred to him that he 
might make one, and return to his study in a 
virtuous frame of mind over a slight and un- 
important, but bothersome duty performed. 
If he had had his wits about him he might have 
seen the feminine heads at the windows, he 
might have heard the quaver of Miss Bessy 
Dicky's voice over the club report; but he saw 
and heard nothing, and now he was seated in 
the midst of the feminine throng, and Miss 
Bessy Dicky's voice quavered more, and she as- 
sumed a slightly mincing attitude. Her thin 
hands trembled more, the hot, red spots on her 



P o 

2 "8 

O bo 

« ,2 



•7} 



V 



a> bo 
c P 

w 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 35 



thin cheeks 'deepened. Eeading the club re- 
ports before the minister was an epoch in an 
epochless life, but Karl von Eosen was oblivi- 
ons of her except as a disturbing element 
rather more insistent than the others in whicH 
he was submerged. 

He sat straight and grave, his eyes retro- 
spective. He was constantly getting into awk- 
ward situations, and acquitting himself in them 
with marvellous dignity and grace. Even Mrs. 
Sarah Joy Snyder, astute as she was, regarded 
him keenly, and could not for the life of her 
tell whether he had come premeditately or not. 
She only discovered one thing, that poor Miss 
Bessy Dicky was reading at him and posing at 
him and trembling her hands at him, and that 
she was throwing it all away, for Von Bosen 
heard no more of her report than if he had been 
in China when she was reading it. Mrs. Snyder 
realised that hardly anything in nature could 
be so totally uninteresting to the young man as 
the report of a woman's club. Inasmuch as she 
herself was devoted to such things, she re- 
garded him with disapproval, although with a 
certain admiration. Karl von Bosen always 



36 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



commanded admiration, although often of a 
grudging character, from women. His utter 
indifference to them as women was the prime 
factor in this ; next to that his really attractive, 
even distinguished, personality. He was hand- 
some after the fashion which usually accom- 
panies devotion to women. He was slight, but 
sinewy, with a gentle, poetical face and great 
black eyes, into which women were apt to pro- 
ject tenderness merely from their own fancy. 
It seemed ridiculous and anomalous that a man 
of Von Bosen's type should not be a lover of 
ladies, and the fact that he was most certainly 
not was both fascinating and exasperating. 

Now Mrs. George B. Slade, magnificent ma- 
tron, as she was, moreover one who had inhaled 
the perfume of adulation from her youth up, 
felt a calm malice. She knew that he had en- 
tered her parlour after the manner of the spider 
and fly rhyme of her childhood ; she knew that 
the other ladies would infer that he had come 
upon her invitation, and her soul was filled with 
one of the petty triumphs of petty Fairbridge. 

She, however, did not dream of the actual 
misery which filled the heart of the graceful, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 37 



dignified young man by her side. She consid- 
ered herself in the position of a mother, who 
forces an undesired, but nevertheless, delectablei 
sweet upon a child, who gazes at her with ado- 
ration when the savour has reached his palate. 
She did not expect Von Eosen to be much edi- 
fied by Miss Bessy Dicky's report. She had 
her own opinion of Miss Bessy Dicky, of her 
sleeves, of her gown, and her report, but she 
had faith in the truly decorative features of the 
occasion when they should be underway, and 
she had immense faith in Mrs. Sarah Joy Sny- 
der. She was relieved when Miss Bessy Dicky 
sat down, and endeavoured to compose her 
knees, which by this time were trembling like 
her hands, and also to assume an expression as 
if she had done nothing at all, and nobody was 
looking at her. That last because of the fact 
that she had done so little, and nobody was 
looking at her rendered her rather pathetic. 

Miss Bessy Dicky did not glance at the min- 
ister, but she, nevertheless, saw him. She had 
never had a lover, and here was the hero of her 
dreams. He would never know it and nobody 
else would ever know it, and no harm would be 



38 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



done except very possibly, by and by, a lacera- 
tion of the emotions of an elderly maiden, and 
afterwards a life-long scar. But who goes 
through life without emotional scars? 

After Miss Bessy Dicky sat down, Mrs. Wil- 
bur Edes, the lady of the silver bell, rose. She 
lifted high her delicate chin, her perfect blond 
pompadour caught the light, her black lace robe 
swept round her in rich darkness, with occa- 
sional revelations of flower and leaf, the fairly 
poetical pattern of real lace. As she rose, she 
diffused around her a perfume as if rose-leaves 
were stirred up. She held a dainty handker- 
chief, edged with real lace, in her little left 
hand, which glittered with rings. In her right, 
was a spangled fan like a black butterfly. Mrs. 
Edes was past her first youth, but she was un- 
deniably charming. She was like a little, per- 
fect, ivory toy, which time has played with but 
has not injured. Mrs. Slade looked at her, 
then at Karl von Eosen. He looked at Mrs. 
Wilbur Edes, then looked away. She was most 
graceful, but most positively uninteresting. 
However, Mrs. Slade was rather pleased atj 
that. She and Mrs. Edes were rival stars. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 39 



Von Rosen had never looked long at her, 
and it seemed right he should not look long at 
the other woman. 

Mrs. Slade surveyed Mrs. Edes as she an- 
nounced the next number on the programme, 
and told herself that Mrs. Edes' gown might 
be real lace and everything about her very real, 
and nice, and elegant, but she was certainly a 
little fussy for so small a woman. Mrs. Slade 
considered that she herself could have carried 
off that elegance in a much more queenly man- 
ner. There was one feature of Mrs. Edes' 
costume which Mrs. Slade resented. She con- 
sidered that it should be worn by a woman of 
her own size and impressiveness. That was a 
little wrap of ermine. Now ermine, as every- 
body knew, should only be worn by large and 
queenly women. Mrs. Slade resolved that she 
herself would have an ermine wrap which 
should completely outshine Mrs. Edes' little af- 
fair, all swinging with tails and radiant with 
tiny, bright-eyed heads. 

Mrs. Edes announced a duet by Miss Mac- 
Donald and Mrs. Wells, and sat down, and 
again the perfume of rose leaves was percepti- 



40 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



ble, Karl von Eosen glanced at the next per- 
formers, Miss MacDonald, who was very pretty 
and well-dressed in white embroidered cloth, 
and Mrs. Wells, who was not pretty, but was 
considered very striking, who trailed after her 
in green folds edged with fur, and bore a roll 
of music. She seated herself at the piano with 
a graceful sweep of her green draperies, which 
defined her small hips, and struck the keys with 
slender fingers quite destitute of rings, always 
lifting them high with a palpable affectation not 
exactly doubtful — that was saying too much — 
but she was considered to reach limits of pro- 
priety with her sinuous motions, the touch of 
her sensitive fingers upon piano keys, and the 
quick flash of her dark eyes in her really plain 
face. There was, for the women in Fairbridge, 
a certain mischievous fascination about Mrs. 
Wells. Moreover, they had in her their one ob- 
ject of covert gossip, their one stimulus to un- 
lawful imagination. 

There was a young man who played the vio- 
lin. His name was Henry Wheaton, and he 
was said to be a frequent caller at Mrs. Wells', 
and she played his accompaniments, and Mr. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 41 



Wells was often detained in New York until the 
late train. Then there was another young man 
who played the 'cello, and he called often. 
And there was Ellis Bainbridge, who had a fine 
tenor voice, and he called. It was delightful 
to have a woman of that sort, of whom nothing 
distinctly culpable could be affirmed, against 
whom no good reason could be brought for ex- 
cluding her from the Zenith Club and the so- 
cial set. In their midst, Mrs. "Wells furnished 
the condiments, the spice, and pepper, and mus- 
tard for many functions. She relieved to a 
great extent the monotony of unquestioned 
propriety. It would have been horribly dull 
if there had been no woman in the Zenith Club 
who furnished an excuse for the other mem- 
bers' gossip. 

Leila MacDonald, so carefully dressed and 
brushed and washed, and so free from defects 
that she was rather irritating, began to sing, 
then people listened. Karl von Bosen listened. 
She really had a voice which always surprised 
and charmed with the first notes, then ceased 
to charm. Leila MacDonald was as a good ca- 
nary bird, born to sing, and dutifully singing, 



42 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



but without the slightest comprehension of her 
song. It was odd too that she sang with plenty 
of expression, but her own lack of realisation 
seemed to dull it for her listeners. Karl von 
Rosen listened, then his large eyes again turned 
introspective. 

Mrs. Edes again arose, after the singing and 
playing ladies had finished their performance 
and returned to their seats, and announced a 
recitation by Miss Sally Anderson. Miss 
Anderson wore a light summer gown, and 
swept to the front, and bent low to her audi- 
ence, then at once began her recitation with a 
loud crash of emotion. She postured, she ges- 
ticulated. She lowered her voice to inaudibil- 
ity, she raised it to shrieks and wails. She did 
everything which she had been taught, and she! 
had been taught a great deal. Mrs. Sarah Joy 
Snyder listened and got data for future lec- 
tures, with her mirthful mouth sternly set. 

After Sally Anderson, Mrs. Jack Evarts 
played a glittering thing called " Waves of the 
Sea." Then Sally Anderson recited again, 
then Mrs. Wilbur Edes spoke at length, and 
with an air which commanded attention, and 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 43 



Von Eosen suffered agonies. He laughed with 
sickly spurts at Mrs. Snyder's confidential sal- 
lies, when she had at last her chance to deliver 
herself of her ten dollar speech, but the worst 
ordeal was to follow. Von Eosen was fluttered 
about by women bearing cups of tea, of frothy 
chocolate, plates of cake, dishes of bonbons, 
and saucers of ice-cream. He loathed sweets 
and was forced into accepting a plate. He 
stood in the midst of the feminine throng, the 
solitary male figure looking at his cup of choc- 
olate, and a slice of sticky cake, and at an ice 
representing a chocolate lily, which somebody 
had placed for special delectation upon a little 
table at his right. Then Alice Mendon came to 
his rescue. 

She deftly took the plate with the sticky cake, 
and the cup of hot chocolate, and substituted 
a plate with a chicken mayonnaise sandwich, 
smiling pleasantly as she did so. 

1 6 Here, ' 9 she whispered. 1 6 Why do you make 
a martyr of yourself for such a petty cause? 
Do it for the faith if you want to, but not for 
thick chocolate and angel cake." 

She swept away the chocolate lily also. 



44 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Von Rosen looked at her gratefully. " Thank 
you," lie murmured. 

She laughed. "Oh, you need not thank me," 
she said. "I have a natural instinct to rescue 
men from sweets." She laughed again mali- 
ciously. "I am sure you have enjoyed the 
club very much," she said. 

Von Rosen coloured before Her sarcastic, 
kindly eyes. He began to speak, but she inter- 
rupted him. "You have heard that silence is 
golden," said she. "It is always golden when 
speech would be a lie." 

Then she turned away and seized upon the 
chocolate lily and pressed it upon Mrs. Joy 
Snyder, who was enjoying adulation and good 
things. 

"Do please have this lovely lily, Mrs. Sny- 
der," she said. "It is the very prettiest ice of 
the lot, and meant especially for you. I am 
sure you will enjoy it." 

And Mrs. Sarah Joy Snyder, whose sense of 
humour deserted her when she was being 
praised and fed, and who had already eaten 
bonbons innumerable, and three ices with ac- 
companying cake, took the chocolate lily grate- 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 45 



fully. Von Eosen ate his chicken sandwich 
and marvelled at the ways of women. 

After Von Eosen had finished his sandwiches 
and tea, he made his way to Mrs. Snyder, and 
complimented her upon her lecture. He had 
a constitutional dislike for falsehoods, which 
was perhaps not so much a virtue as an idio- 
syncrasy. Now he told Mrs. Snyder that he 
had never heard a lecture which seemed to 
amuse an audience more than hers had done, 
and that he quite envied her because of her 
power of holding attention. Mrs. Snyder, with 
the last petal of her chocolate lily sweet upon 
her tongue, listened with such a naivete of ac- 
quiescence that she was really charming, and 
Von Eosen had spoken the truth. He had won- 
dered, when he saw the eagerly tilted faces of 
the women, and heard their bursts of shrill 
laughter and clapping of hands, why he could 
not hold them with his sermons which, he might 
assume without vanity, contained considerable 
subject for thought, as this woman, with her 
face like a mask of mirth, held them with her 
compilation of platitudes. 

He thought that he had never seen so many 



46 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



women listen with such intensity, and lack of 
self-consciousness. He had seen only two pat 
their hair, only one glance at her glittering 
rings, only three arrange the skirts of their 
gowns while the lecture was in progress. 
Sometimes during his sermons, he felt as if he 
were holding forth to a bewildering sea of mo- 
tion with steadily recurrent waves, which fas- 
cinated him, of feathers, and flowers, swinging 
fur tails, and kid-gloved hands, fluttering rib- 
bons, and folds of drapery. Karl von Rosen 
would not have acknowledged himself as a 
woman-hater, that savoured too much of ab- 
surd male egotism, but he had an under convic- 
tion that women were, on the whole, admitting 
of course exceptions, self-centred in the pur- 
suit of petty ends to the extent of absolute vi- 
ciousness. He disliked women, although he 
had never owned it to himself. 

In spite of his dislike of women, Von Rosen 
had a house-keeper. He had made an ineffec- 
tual trial of an ex-hotel chef, but had finally 
been obliged to resort to Mrs. Jane Riggs. 
She was tall and strong, wider-shouldered than 
hipped. She went about her work with long 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 47 



strides. She never fussed. She never asked 
questions. In fact, she seldom spoke. 

When Von Eosen entered his house that 
night, after the club meeting, he had a com- 
fortable sense of returning to an embodied si- 
lence. The coal fire in his study grate was 
red and clear. Everything was in order with- 
out misplacement. That was one of Jane 
Eiggs' chief talents. She could tidy things 
without misplacing them. Von Eosen loved 
order, and was absolutely incapable of keeping 
it. Therefore Jane Eiggs' orderliness was as 
balm. He sat down in his Morris chair before 
his fire, stretched out his legs to the warmth, 
which was grateful after the icy outdoor air, 
rested his eyes upon a plaster cast over the 
chimney place, which had been tinted a beauti- 
ful hue by his own pipe, and sighed with con- 
tent. His own handsome face was rosy with 
the reflection of the fire, his soul rose-coloured 
with complete satisfaction. He was so glad to 
be quit of that crowded assemblage of eager 
femininity, so glad that it was almost worth 
while to have encountered it just for that sense 
of blessed relief. 



48 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



Mrs. Edes had offered to take him home in 
her carriage, and he had declined almost 
brusquely. To have exchanged that homeward 
walk over the glistening earth, and under the 
clear rose and violet lights of the winter sunset, 
with that sudden rapturous discovery of the 
slender crescent of the new moon, for a ride 
with Mrs. Edes in her closed carriage with her 
silvery voice in his ear instead of the keen si- 
lence of the winter air, would have been tor- 
ture. Von Eosen wondered at himself for dis- 
liking Mrs. Edes in particular, whereas he dis- 
liked most women in general. There was 
something about her feline motions instinct with 
swiftness, and concealed claws, and the half 
keen, half sleepy glances of her green-blue eyes, 
which irritated him beyond measure, and he 
was ashamed of being irritated. It implied a 
power over him, and yet it was certainly not a 
physical power. It was subtle and pertained 
to spirit. He realised, as did many in Fair- 
bridge, a strange influence, defying reason 
and will, which this small woman with her hid- 
den swiftness had over nearly everybody with 
whom she came in contact. It had nothing 



THE BUTTEKFLY HOUSE 49 

whatever to do with sex. She would have pro- 
duced it in the same degree, had she not been 
in the least attractive. It was compelling, and 
at the same time irritating. 

Von Eosen in his Morris chair after the tea 
welcomed the intrusion of Jane Eiggs, which 
dispelled his thought of Mrs. Wilbur Edes. 
Jane stood beside the chair, a rigid straight 
length of woman with a white apron starched 
like a board, covering two thirds of her, and 
waited for interrogation. 

"What is it, Jane?" asked Von Eosen. 

Jane Eiggs replied briefly. "Outlandish 
young woman out in the kitchen,' ' she said with 
distinct disapproval, yet with evident helpless- 
ness before the situation. 

Von Eosen started. "Where is the dog?" 

"Licking her hands. Every time I told her 
to go, Jack growled. Mebbe you had better 
come out yourself, Mr. Von Eosen." 

When Von Eosen entered the kitchen, he saw 
a little figure on the floor in a limp heap, with 
the dog frantically licking its hands, which were 
very small and brown and piteously outspread, 
as if in supplication. 



50 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 

"Mebbe you had better call up the doctor on 
the telephone; she seems to have swooned 
away," said Jane Eiggs. At the same time she 
made one long stride to the kitchen sink, and 
water. Von Eosen looked aghast at the 
stricken figure, which was wrapped in a queer 
medley of garments. He also saw on the floor 
near by a bulging suitcase. 

"She is one of them pedlars," said Jane 
Riggs, dashing water upon the dumb little face. 
"I rather guess you had better call up the doc- 
tor on the telephone. She don't seem to be 
coming to easy and she may have passed 
away." 

Von Eosen gasped, then he looked pitifully 
at the poor little figure, and ran back to his 
study to the telephone. To his great relief as 
he passed the window, he glanced out, and saw 
Doctor Sturtevant's automobile making its way 
cautiously over the icy street. Then for the 
first time he remembered that he had been due 
at that time about a matter of a sick parish- 
ioner. He opened the front door hurriedly, 
and stated the case, and the two men carried 
the little unconscious creature upstairs. Then 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 51 



Von Eosen came down, leaving the doctor and 
Martha with her. He waited in the study, lis- 
tening to the sounds overhead, waiting impa- 
tiently for the doctor's return, which was not 
for half an hour or more. In the meantime 
Martha came downstairs on some errand to 
the kitchen. Von Eosen intercepted her. 
"What does Doctor Sturtevant think ?" he 
asked. 

"Dunno, what he thinks,' * replied Martha 
brusquely, pushing past him. 

"Is she conscious yet?" 

"Dunno, I ain't got any time to talk," said 
Martha, casting a flaming look at him over her 
shoulder as she entered the kitchen. 

Von Eosen retreated to the study, where he 
was presently joined by the doctor. "What is 
it?" asked Von Eosen with an emphasis, which 
rendered it so suspicious that he might have 
added: "what the devil is it?" had it not been 
for his profession. 

Sturtevant answered noiselessly, the motion 
of his lips conveying his meaning. Then he 
said, shrugging himself into his fur coat, as 
he spoke, "I have to rush my motor to see a 



52 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



patient, whom I dare not leave another mo- 
ment, then I will be back." 

Von Rosen's great Persian cat had curled 
himself on the doctor's fur coat, and now 
shaken off, sat with a languid dignity, his great 
yellow plume of a tail waving, and his eyes 
like topazes fixed intently upon Sturtevant. 
At that moment a little cry was heard from the 
guest room, a cry between a moan and a 
scream, but unmistakably a note of suffering. 
Sturtevant jammed his fur cap upon his head 
and pulled on his gloves. 

" Don't go," pleaded Von Eosen in a sudden 
terror of helplessness. 

"I must, but I'll break the speed laws and 
tie back before you know it. That housekeeper 
of yours is as good as any trained nurse, and 
better. She is as hard as nails, but she does 
her duty like a machine, and she has brains. 
I will be back in a few minutes." 

Then Sturtevant was gone, and Von Eosen 
sat again before his study fire. There was an- 
other little note of suffering from above. Von 
Eosen shuddered, rose, and closed his door. 
The Persian cat came and sat in front of him, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 53 



and gazed at him with jewel-like eyes. There 
was an expression of almost human anxiety; 
and curiosity upon the animal's face. He 
came from a highly developed race ; he and his 
forbears had always been with humans. At 
times it seemed to Von Rosen as if the cat had 
a dumb knowledge of the most that he himself 
knew. He reached down and patted the 
shapely golden head, but the cat withdrew, 
curled himself into a coil of perfect luxurious- 
ness, with the firelight casting a warm, rosy 
glow upon his golden beauty, purred a little 
while, then sank into the mystery of animal 
sleep. 

Von Rosen sat listening. He told himself 
that Sturtevant should be back within half an 
hour. When only ten minutes had passed he 
took out his watch and was dismayed to find 
how short a time had elapsed. He replaced his 
watch and leaned back. He was always listen- 
ing uneasily. He had encountered illness and 
death and distress, but never anything quite 
like this. He had always been able to give 
personal aid. Now he felt barred out, and 
fiercely helpless. 



54 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 

He sat ten minutes longer. Then he arose. 
He could reach the kitchen by another way 
which did not lead past the stairs. He went 
out there, treading on tiptoe. The cat had 
looked up, stretched, and lazily gotten upon his 
feet and followed him, tail waving like a pen- 
nant. He brushed around Von Eosen out in 
the kitchen, and mewed a little, delicate, high- 
bred mew. The dog came leaping up the base- 
ment stairs, sat up and begged. Von Eosen 
opened the ice box and found therein some 
steak. He cut off large pieces and fed the cat 
and dog. He also found milk and filled a sau- 
cer. 

He stole back to the study. He thought he 
had closed all the doors, but presently the cat 
centered, then sat down and began to lick him- 
self with his little red rough tongue. Von 
Eosen looked at his watch again. The house 
shook a little, and he knew that the shaking was 
caused by Jane Eiggs, walking upstairs. He 
longed to go upstairs but knew that he could 
not, and again that rage of helplessness came 
over him. He reflected upon human life, the 
agony of its beginning; the agony, in spite of 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 55 



bravery, in spite of denial of agony, the agony 
under the brightest of suns, of its endurance; 
the agony of its end; and his reflections were 
almost blasphemous. His religion seemed to 
crumble beneath the standing-place of his soul. 
A torture of doubt, a certainty of ignorance, in 
spite of the utmost efforts of faith, came over 
him. The cat coiled himself again and sank 
into sleep. Von Eosen gazed at him. What 
if the accepted order of things were reversed, 
after all? What if that beautiful little animal 
were on a higher plane than he? Certainly 
the cat did not suffer, and certainly suffering 
and doubt degraded even the greatest. 

He looked at his watch and saw that Sturte- 
vant had been gone five minutes over the half 
hour. He switched off the electric light, and 
stood in his window, which faced the street 
down which the doctor in his car must come. 
He realised at once that this was more endur- 
able. He was doing what a woman would have 
done long before. He was masculine, and had 
not the quick instinct to stand by the window 
and watch out, to ease impatience. The road 
was like a broad silver band under the moon. 



56 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



The lights in house windows gleamed througH 
drawn shades, except in one house, where he 
could see quite distinctly a woman seated be- 
side a lamp with a green shade, sewing, with 
regular motions of a red, silk-clad arm. Von 
Eosen strained his eyes, and saw, as he 
thought, a dark bulk advancing far down the 
street. He watched and watched, then noted 
that the dark bulk had not moved. He won- 
dered if the motor had broken down. He 
thought of running out to see, and made a mo- 
tion to go, then he saw swiftly-moving lights 
pass the dark bulk. He thought they were the 
lights of the motor, but as they passed he saw 
it was a cab taking someone to the railroad sta- 
tion. He knew then that the dark bulk was a 
clump of trees. 

Then, before he could fairly sense it, the doc- 
tor's motor came hurtling down the street, its 
search-lights glaring, swinging from side to 
side. The machine stopped, and Yon Eosen 
ran to the door. 

"Here I am," said Sturtevant in a hushed 
voice. There was a sound from the room 
above, and the doctor, Von Eosen and nurse 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 57 



looked at each other. Then Von Eosen sat 
again alone in his study, and now, in spite of 
the closed door, he heard noises above stairs. 
Solitude was becoming frightful to him. He 
felt all at once strangely young, like a child, 
and a pitiful sense of injury was over him, but 
the sense of injury was not for himself alone, 
but for all mankind. He realised that all man- 
kind was enormously pitiful and injured, by the 
mere fact of their obligatory existence. And 
he wished more than anything in the world for 
some understanding soul with whom to share 
his sense of the universal grievance. 

But he continued to sit alone, and the cat 
slept in his golden coil of peace. Then sud- 
denly the cat sat up, and his jewel eyes glowed. 
He looked fixedly at a point in the room. Von 
Eosen looked in the same direction but saw 
nothing except his familiar wall. Then he 
heard steps on the stairs, and the door opened, 
and Jane Biggs entered. She was white and 
stern. She was tragic. Her lean fingers were 
clutching at the air. Von Eosen stared at her. 
She sat down and swept her crackling white 
apron over her head. 



CHAPTER III 



When Margaret Edes had returned home after 
the Zenith Club, she devoted an hour to rest. 
She had ample time for that before dressing 
for a dinner which she and her husband were 
to give in New York that evening. The din- 
ner was set for rather a late hour in order to 
enable Margaret to secure this rest before the 
train-time. She lay on a conch before the fire, 
in her room which was done in white and gold. 
Her hair was perfectly arranged, for she had 
scarcely moved her head during the club meet- 
ing, and had adjusted and removed her hat 
with the utmost caution. Now she kept her 
shining head perfectly still upon a rather hard 
pillow. She did not relax her head, but she did 
relax her body, and the result, as she was 
aware, would be beautifying. 

Still as her head remained, she allowed no 
lines of disturbance to appear upon her face, and 
for that matter, no lines of joy. Secretly she did 
not approve of smiles, more than she approved 

58 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 59 



of tears. Both of them, she knew, tended to 
leave traces, and other people, especially other 
women, did not discriminate between the traces 
of tears and smiles. Therefore, lying with her 
slim graceful body stretched out at full length 
upon her couch, Margaret Edes' face was as ab- 
solutely devoid of expression as a human face 
could well be, and this although she was think- 
ing rather strenuously. She had not been 
pleased with the impression which Mrs. Sarah 
Joy Snyder had made upon the Zenith Club, 
because Mrs. Slade, and not she, had been in- 
strumental in securing her valuable services. 
Mrs. Edes had a Napoleonic ambition which 
was tragic and pathetic, because it could com- 
mand only a narrow scope for its really un- 
usual force. If Mrs. Edes had only been pos- 
sessed of the opportunity to subjugate Europe, 
nothing except another Waterloo could have 
stopped her onward march. But she had ab- 
solutely nothing to subjugate except poor little 
Fairbridge. She was a woman of power which 
was wasted. She was absurdly tragic, but 
none the less tragic. Power spent upon petty 
ends is one of the greatest disasters of the 



60 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



world. It wrecks not only the spender, but its 
object. Mrs. Edes was horribly and unworth- 
ily unhappy, reflecting upon Mrs. Sarah Joy 
Snyder and Mrs. Slade. She cared very much 
because Mrs. Slade and not she had brought 
about this success of the Zenith Club, with 
Mrs. Snyder as high-light. It was a shame 
to her, but she could not help it, because one 
living within narrow horizons must have lim- 
ited aims. 

If only her husband had enough money to en- 
able her to live in New York after the manner 
which would have suited her, she felt capable 
of being a leading power in that great and 
dreadful city. Probably she was right. The 
woman was in reality possessed of abnormal 
nerve force. Had "Wilbur Edes owned mil- 
lions, and she been armed with the power which 
they can convey, she might have worked mira- 
cles in her subtle feminine fashion. She would 
always have worked subtly, and never believed 
her feminine self. She understood its worth 
too well. She would have conquered like a cat, 
because she understood her weapons, her vel- 
vet charm, her purr, and her claws. She would 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 61 



not have attempted a growling and bulky leap 
into success. She would have slid and insinu- 
ated and made her gliding progress almost im- 
perceptible, but none the less remorseless. 

But she was fated to live in Fairbridge. 
"What else could she do? Wilbur Edes was 
successful in his profession, but he was not an 
accumulator, and neither was she. His income 
was large during some years, but it was spent 
during those years for things which seemed ab- 
solutely indispensable to both husband and 
wife. For instance, to-night Wilbur would 
spend an extravagant sum upon this dinner, 
which he was to give at an extravagant hotel 
to some people whom Mrs. Edes had met last 
summer, and who, if not actually in the great 
swim 2 were in the outer froth of it, and she had 
vague imaginings of future gain through 
them. Wilbur had carried his dress suit in 
that morning. He was to take a room in the 
hotel and change, and meet her at the New 
York side of the ferry. As she thought of the 
ferry it was all Mrs. Edes could do to keep her 
smooth brow from a frown. Somehow the 
ferry always humiliated her; the necessity of 



62 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



going up or down that common, democratic 
gang plank, clinging to the tail of her fine gown, 
and seating herself in a row with people who 
glanced askance at her evening wrap and her 
general magnificence. 

Poor Mrs. Edes was so small and slight that 
holding up magnificence and treading the deck 
with her high-heeled shoes was physically fa- 
tiguing. Had she been of a large, powerful 
physique, had her body matched her mind, she 
might not have felt a sense of angry humilia- 
tion. As it was, she realised that for her, her, 
to be obliged to cross the ferry was an insult 
at the hands of Providence. But the tunnel 
was no better, perhaps worse, — that plunged 
into depths below the waters, like one in a pub- 
lic bath. Anything so exquisite, so dainty, so 
subtly fine and powerful as herself, should not 
have been condemned to this. She should have 
been able to give her dinners in her own mag- 
nificent New York mansion. As it was, there 
was nothing for her except to dress and accept 
the inevitable. 

It was as bad as if Napoleon the Great had 
been forced to ride to battle on a trolley car, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 63 



instead of being Hooted and spurred and 
astride a charger, which lifted one fore-leg in a 
fling of scorn. Of course Wilbur would meet 
her, and they would take a taxicab, but even a 
taxicab seemed rather humiliating to her. It 
should have been her own private motor car. 
And she would be obliged to descend the stairs 
at the station ungracefully, one hand clutching 
nervously at the tail of her gorgeous gown, the 
other at her evening cloak. It was absolutely 
impossible for so slight a woman to descend 
stairs with dignity and grace, holding up an 
evening cloak and a long gown. 

However, there would be compensations 
later. She thought, with decided pleasure, of 
the private dining-room, and the carefully 
planned and horribly expensive decorations, 
which would be eminently calculated to form a 
suitable background for herself. The flowers 
and candle-shades were to be yellow, and she 
was to wear her yellow chiffon gown, with 
touches of gold embroidery, a gold comb set 
with topazes in her yellow hair, and on her 
breast a large, gleaming stone which was a yel- 
low diamond of very considerable value. Wil- 



64 THE BUTTEKFLY HOUSE 



bur had carried in his suit case her yellow satin 
slippers, her gold-beaded fan, and the queer lit- 
tle wrap of leopard skin which she herself had 
fashioned from a rug which her husband had 
given her. She had much skill in fashioning 
articles for her own adornment as a cat has in 
burnishing his fur, and would at any time have 
sacrificed the curtains or furniture covers, had 
they met her needs. 

She would not be obliged — crowning disgrace: 
5— to carry a bag. All she would need would be 
her little case for tickets, and her change purse, 
and her evening cloak had pockets. The even- 
ing cloak lay beside the yellow chiffon gown, 
carefully disposed on the bed, which had a lace 
counterpane over yellow satin. The cloak was 
of a creamy cloth lined with mink, a sumptuous 
affair, and she had a tiny mink toque with one 
yellow rose as head covering. 

She glanced approvingly at the rich attire 
spread upon the bed, and then thought again of 
the dreadful ferry, and her undignified hop 
across the dirty station to the boat. She longed 
for the days of sedan chairs, for anything 
rather than this. She was an exquisite lady 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 65 



Caught in the toils of modern cheap progress 
toward all her pleasures and profits. She did 
not belong in a democratic country at all unless 
she had millions. She was out of place, as 
much out of place as a splendid Angora in an 
alley. Fairbridge to her instincts was as an 
alley; yet since it was her alley, she had to 
make the best of it. Had she not made the best 
of it, exalted it, magnified it, she would have 
gone mad. Wherefore the triumph of Mrs. 
Slade in presenting Mrs. Sarah Joy Snyder 
seemed to her like an affair of moment. For 
lack of something greater to hate and rival, she 
hated and rivalled Mrs. Slade. For lack of 
something big over which to reign, she wished 
to reign over Fairbridge and the Zenith Club. 
Mrs. Slade 's perfectly-matched drawing-room 
took on the semblance of a throne-room, in 
which she had seen herself usurped. 

Then she thought of the young clergyman, 
even as he was thinking of her. She knew per- 
fectly well how he had been trapped, but she 
failed to see the slightest humour in it. She 
had no sense of humour. She saw only the 
additional triumph of Mrs. Slade in securing 



66 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



this rather remarkable man at the Zenith Club, 
something which she herself had never been 
able to do. Von Eosen's face came before her. 
She considered it a handsome face, but no 
man's face could disturb her. She held her 
virtue with as nervous a clutch as she held up 
her fine gown. To soil either would be injudi- 
cious, impolitic, and she never desired the in- 
judicious and impolitic. 

"He is a handsome man," she said to Her- 
self, "an aristocratic-looking man." Then the 
telephone bell close beside her divan rang, and 
she took up the receiver carefully, not moving 
her head, sat up, and put her delicate lips to the 
speaking tube. 

"Hello," said a voice, and she recognised it 
as Von Eosen's although it had an agitated, 
nervous ring which was foreign to it. 

"What is it?" she said in reply, and the 
voice responded with volubility, "A girl, a 
young Syrian girl, is at my home. She is in a 
swoon or something. We cannot revive her. 
Is the doctor at home? Tell him to hurry over, 
please. I am Mr. von Eosen. Tell him to 
hurry. She may be dead." 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 67 



" You have made a mistake, Mr. von Rosen," 
said Mrs. Edes' thin voice, as thin and silvery 
as a reed. "You are speaking to Mrs. "Wilbur 
Edes. My telephone number is 5R. You 
doubtless want Doctor Sturtevant. His num- 
ber is 51M." 

"Oh, pardon," cried the voice over the tele- 
phone. "Sorry to have disturbed you, Mrs. 
Edes, I mistook — " 

The voice trailed into nothingness. There 
was a sharp ring. Mrs. Edes hung up her re- 
ceiver. She thought slowly that it was a 
strange circumstance that Mr. von Rosen 
should have a fainting or dead young Syrian 
girl in his house. Then she rose from the di- 
van, holding her head very stiffly, and began to 
dress. She had just enough time to dress lei- 
surely and catch the train. She called on one 
of the two maids to assist her and was quite 
equipped, even to the little mink toque, fas- 
tened very carefully on her shining head, when 
there was a soft push at the door, and her twin 
daughters, Maida and Adelaide, entered. 
They were eight years old, but looked younger. 
They were almost exactly alike as to small, 



68 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



pretty features and pale blond colouring. 
Maida scowled a little, and Adelaide did not, 
and people distinguished them by that when in 
doubt. 

They stood and stared at their mother with 
a curious expression on their sharp, delicate 
little faces. It was not exactly admiration, it 
was not wonder, nor envy, nor affection, yet 
tinctured by all. 

Mrs. Edes looked at them. "Maida," said 
she, "do not wear that blue hair-ribbon again. 
It is soiled. Have you had your dinners?" 

"Yes, mamma," responded first one, then the 
other, Maida with the frown being slightly in 
the lead. 

"Then you had better go to bed," said Mrs. 
Edes, and the two little girls stood carefully 
aside to allow her to pass. 

"Good night, children/ ' said Mrs. Edes with- 
out turning her mink-crowned head. The lit- 
tle girls watched the last yellow swirl of their 
mother's skirts, disappearing around the stair- 
landing, then Adelaide spoke. 

"I mean to wear red, myself, when I'm grown 
up," said she. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 69 



"Ho, just because Jim Carr likes red," re- 
torted Maida. "As for me, I mean to have a 
gown just like hers, only a little deeper shade 
of yellow." 

Adelaide laughed, an unpleasantly snarling 
little laugh. "Ho," said she, "just because 
Val Thomas likes yellow." 

Then the coloured maid, Emma, who was 
cross because Mrs. Edes' evening out had de- 
prived her of her own, and had been ruthlessly 
hanging her mistress's gown which she had 
worn to the club in a wad on a closet hook, dis- 
regarding its perfumed hanger, turned upon 
them. 

"Heah, ye chillun," said she, "your ma sid 
for you to go to baid." 

Each little girl had her white bed with a can- 
opy of pink silk in a charming room. There 
were garlands of rosebuds on the wallpaper 
and the furniture was covered with rosebud 
chintz. 

While tEeir mother was indignantly sailing 
across the North River, her daughters lay 
awake, building air-castles about themselves 
and their boy-lovers, which fevered their im^ 



70 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



aginations, and aged them horribly; in a spir- 
itual sense, 

"Amy White's mother plays dominoes with 
her every evening,' ' Maida remarked. Her 
voice sounded incredibly old, full of faint de- 
risiveness and satire, but absolutely non-com- 
plaining. 

"Amy White's mother would look awfully 
funny in a gown like Mamma's," said Adel- 
aide. 

"I suppose that is why she plays dominoes 
with Amy," said Maida in her old voice. 

"Oh, don't talk any more, Maida, I want to 
go to sleep," said Adelaide pettishly, but she 
was not in the least sleepy. She wished to re- 
turn to the air-castle in which she had been 
having sweet converse with Jim Carr. This 
air-castle was the abode of innocence, but it 
was not yet time for its building at all. It 
was such a little childish creature who lay 
curled up under the coverlid strewn with rose- 
buds that the gates of any air-castle of life and 
love, and knowledge, however innocent and ig- 
norant, should have been barred against her, 
perhaps with dominoes. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 71 



However, she entered in, her soft cheeks 
burning, and her pulse tingling, and saw the 
strange light through its fairy windows, and 
her sister also entered her air-castle, and all the 
time their mother was sailing across the North 
Eiver toward the pier where her husband 
waited. She kept one gloved hand upon the 
fold of her gown, ready to clutch it effectually 
clear of the dirty deck when the pier was 
reached. When she was in the taxicab with 
Wilbur, she thought again of Von Eosen. 
"Dominie von Eosen made a mistake," said 
she, "and called up the wrong number. He 
wanted Doctor Sturtevant, and he got me." 
Then she repeated the message. "What do 
you suppose he was doing with a fainting Syr- 
ian girl in his house?" she ended. 

A chuckle shook the dark bulk in its fur 
lined coat at her side. "The question is why 
the Syrian girl chose Von Eosen 5 s house to 
faint in," said he lightly. 

"Oh, don't be funny, Wilbur, a said Mar- 
garet. "Have you seen the dining-room? 
How does it look?" 

"I thought it beautiful, and I am sure you 



72 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



will like it," said Wilbur Edes in the chastened 
tone which he commonly used toward his wife. 
He had learned long ago that facetiousness 
displeased her, and he lived only to please her, 
aside from his interest in his profession. Poor 
Wilbur Edes thought his wife very wonderful, 
and watched with delight the hats doffed when 
she entered the hotel lift like a little beruffled 
yellow canary. He wished those men could see 
her later, when the canary resemblance had al- 
together ceased, when she would look tall and 
slender and lithe in her clinging yellow gown 
with the great yellow stone gleaming in her 
corsage. 

For some reason Margaret Edes held her 
husband's admiration with a more certain ten- 
ure because she could not be graceful when 
weighed down with finery. The charm of her 
return to grace was a never-ending surprise. 
Wilbur Edes loved his wife more comfortably 
than he loved his children. He loved them a 
little uneasily. They were unknown elements 
to him, and he sometimes wished that he had 
more time at home, to get them firmly fixed in 
his comprehension. Without the slightest con- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 73 



demnation of his wife, he had never regarded 
her as a woman in whom the maternal was a 
distinguishing feature. He saw with approba- 
tion the charming externals with which she sur- 
rounded their offspring. It was a gratification 
to him to be quite sure that Maida's hair rib- 
bon would always be fresh and tied perkily, 
and that Adelaide would be full of dainty little 
gestures copied from her mother, but he had 
some doubts as to whether his wonderful Mar- 
garet might not be too perfect in herself, and 
too engrossed with the duties pertaining to per- 
fection to be quite the proper manager of im- 
perfection and immaturity represented by 
childhood. 

"How did you leave the children?" lie in- 
quired when they were in their bedroom at the 
hotel, and he was fitting the yellow satin slip- 
pers to his wife's slender silk shod feet. 

"The children were as well as usual. I told 
Emma to put them to bed. Do you think the 
orchids in the dining-room are the right shade, 
Wilbur ?" 

"I am quite sure. I am glad that you told 
Emma to put them to bed." 



74 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



"I always do. Mrs. George B. Slade is most 
unpleasantly puffed up." 
"Why?" 

"Oh, because she got Mrs. Sarah Joy Snyder 
to speak to the club." 

"Did she do her stunt well?" 

"Well enough. Mrs. Slade was so pleased, 
it was really offensive." 

Wilbur Edes had an inspiration. "The 
Fay-Wymans," said he (the Fay-Wymans 
were the principal guests of their dinner 
party), "know a lot of theatrical people. I will 
see if I can't get them to induce somebody, say 
Lydia Greenway, to run out some day; I sup- 
pose it would have to be later on, just after the 
season, and do a stunt at the club." 

"Oh, that would be simply charming," cried 
Margaret, "and I would rather have it in the 
spring, because everything looks so much pret- 
tier. But don't you think it will be impossible, 
Wilbur?" 

"Not with money as an inducement." Wil- 
bur had the pleasant consciousness of an un- 
usually large fee which was sure to be his own 
before that future club meeting, and he could 



THE BUTTEKFLY HOUSE 75 



see no better employment for it than to enable 
his adored wife to outshine Mrs. George B. 
Slade. "When in New York engaged in his pro- 
fession, Wilbur Edes was entirely free from the 
vortex of Fairbridge, but his wife, with its ter- 
rible eddies still agitating her garments, could 
suck him therein, even in the great city. He 
was very susceptible to her influence. 

Margaret Edes beamed at her husband as he 
rose. 6 ' That will make Marion Slade furious, ' * 
she said. She extended her feet. "Pretty 
slippers, aren't they, Wilbur?" 

"Charming, my dear." 

Margaret was so pleased that she tried to do 
something very amiable. 

"That was funny, I mean what you said 
about the Syrian girl at the Dominie's," she 
volunteered, and laughed, without making a 
crease in her fair little face. She was really 
adorable, far more than pretty, leaning back 
with one slender, yellow-draped leg crossed 
over the other, revealing the glittering slippers 
and one silken ankle. 

"It does sound somewhat queer, a Syrian 
girl fainting in the Dominie's house," said 



76 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Wilbur. "She could not have found a house 
where her sex, of any nationality, are in less 
repute." 

"Then you don't think that Alice Men- 
don — f " There was a faint note of jealousy 
in Margaret's voice, although she herself had 
not the slightest interest in Dominie von Bo- 
sen or any man, except her husband; and in 
him only because he was her husband. As the 
husband of her wonderful self, he acquired a 
certain claim to respect, even affection, such as 
she had to bestow. 

"I don't think Alice Mendon would take up 
with the Dominie, if he would with her," re- 
sponded "Wilbur Edes hastily. Margaret did 
not understand his way of speaking, but just 
then she looked at herself in an opposite mir- 
ror, and pulled down one side of her blond 
pompadour a bit, which softened her face, and 
added to its allurement. The truth was Wil- 
bur Edes, before he met Margaret, had pro- 
posed to Alice Mendon. Alice had never told, 
and he had not, consequently Margaret did not 
know. Had she known it would have made no 
difference, since she could not imagine any 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 77 



man preferring Alice to herself. All her 
jealousy was based upon the facts of her supe- 
rior height, and ability to carry herself well, 
where she knew herself under many circum- 
stances about as graceful as an Angora cat 
walking upon her hind legs. She was abso- 
lutely sure of her husband. The episode with 
Alice had occurred before he had ever even seen 
Herself. She smiled radiantly upon him as 
she arose. She was conscious of no affection 
for her husband, but she was conscious of a de- 
sire to show appreciation, and to display radi- 
ance for his delectation. 

"It is charming of you to think of getting 
Lydia Greenway to read, you dear old man," 
said she. Wilbur beamed. 

"Well, of course, I can not be sure, that is 
not absolutely sure, but if it is to be done, I 
will manage it," said he. 

It was at this very time, for radically differ- 
ent notes sound at the same time in the har- 
mony or discord of life, that Von Eosen's 
housekeeper, Jane Eiggs, stood before him with 
that crackling white apron swept over her face. 

"What is it?" asked Von Eosen, and he real- 



78 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



ised that his lips were stiff, and his voice 
sounded strange. 

A strange harsh sob came from behind the 
apron. "She was all bent to one side with 
that heavy suit case, as heavy as lead, for I 
hefted it," said Jane Biggs, "and she couldn't 
have been more than fifteen. Them outlandish 
girls get married awful young. " 

"What is it?" 

"And there was poor Jack lickin' her hands, 
and him a dog everybody is so scared of, and 
she a sinkin' down in a heap on my kitchen 
floor." 

"What is it?" 

"She has passed away," answered Jane 
Eiggs, "and — the baby is a boy, and no bigger 
than the cat, not near as big as the cat when I 
come to look at him, and I put some of my old 
flannels and my shimmy on him, and Doctor 
Sturtevant has got him in my darning basket, 
all lined with newspapers, the New York Sun, 
and the Times and hot water bottles, and it's 
all happened in the best chamber, and I call it 
pretty goings on." 

Jane Eiggs gave vent to discordant sobs. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 79 



Her apron crackled. Von Rosen took hold of 
her shoulders. "Go straight back up there," 
he ordered. 

"Why couldn't she have gone in and fainted 
away somewhere where there was more women 
than one," said Jane Riggs. "Doctor Sturte- 
vant, he sent me down for more newspapers." 

"Take these, and go back at once," said Von 
Rosen, and he gathered up the night papers in 
a crumpled heap and thrust them upon the wo- 
man. 

"He said you had better telephone for Mrs. 
Bestwick," said Jane. Mrs. Bestwick was the 
resident nurse of Fairbridge. Von Rosen 
sprang to the telephone, but he could get no re- 
sponse whatever from the Central office, prob- 
ably on account of the ice-coated wires. 

He sat down disconsolately, and the cat leapt 
upon his knees, but he pushed him away impa- 
tiently, to be surveyed in consequence by those 
topaz eyes with a regal effect of injury, and 
astonishment. Von Rosen listened. He won- 
dered if he heard, or imagined that he heard, a 
plaintive little wail. The dog snuggled close 
to him, and he felt a warm tongue lap. Von 



SO THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Eosen patted the dog's head. Here was sym- 
pathy. The cat's leap into his lap had been 
purely selfish. Von Eosen listened. He got 
np ? and tried to telephone again, but got no 
response from Central. He hung up the re- 
ceiver emphatically and sat down again. The 
dog again came close, and he patted the humble 
loving head. Von Eosen listened again, and 
again could not be sure whether he actually 
heard or imagined that he heard, the feeblest, 
most helpless cry ever lifted up from this earth, 
that of a miserable new born baby with its 
uncertain future reaching before it and all 
the sins of its aneertors upon its devoted 
head. 

When at last the door opened and Doctor 
Sturtevant entered, he was certain. That poor 
little atom of humanity upstairs was lifting up 
its voice of feeble rage and woe because of its 
entrance into existence. Sturtevant had an 
oddly apologetic look. "I assure you I am 
sorry, my dear fellow — M he began. 

"Is the poor little beggar going to live!" 
asked Von Eosen. 

"Well, yes, I think so, judging from the pres- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 81 



ent outlook," replied the doctor still apologeti- 
cally. 

"I could not get Mrs. Bestwick," said Von 
Bosen anxiously. "I think the telephone is out 
of commission, on account of the ice." 

" Never mind that. Your housekeeper is a 
jewel, and I will get Mrs. Bestwick on my way 
home. I say, Von Bosen — 99 

Von Bosen looked at him inquiringly. 

"Oh, well, never mind; I really must be off 
now," said the doctor hurriedly. "I will get 
Mrs. Bestwick here as soon as possible. I 
think — the child will have to be kept here for a 
short time anyway, considering the weather, 
and everything." 

"Why, of course," said Von Bosen. 

After the doctor had gone, he went out in 
the kitchen. He had had no dinner. Jane 
Biggs, who had very acute hearing, came to the 
head of the stairs, and spoke in a muffled tone, 
muffled as Von Bosen knew because of the pres- 
ence of death and life in the house. "The 
roast is in the oven, Mr. von Bosen," said she, 
"I certainly hope it isn't too dry, and the soup 
is in the kettle, and the vegetables are all ready 



82 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



to dish up. Everything is ready except the 
coffee." 

"You know I can make that," called Von 
Eosen in alarm. "Don't think of coming 
down." 

Yon Eosen could make very good coffee. It 

was an accomplishment of his college days. 
He made some now. He felt the need of it. 
Then he handily served the very excellent din- 
ner, and sat down at his solitary dining table. 
As he ate his soup, he glanced across the table, 
and a blush like that of a girl overspread his 
dark face. He had a vision of a high chair, 
and a child installed therein with the custom- 
ary bib and spoon. It was a singular circum- 
stance, but everything in life moves in se- 
quences, and that poor Syrian child upstairs, 
in her dire extremity, was furnishing a se- 
quence in the young man's life, before she went 
out of it. Her stimulation of his sympathy 
and imagination was to change the whole 
course of his existence. 

Meanwhile, Doctor Sturtevant was Having a 
rather strenuous argument with his wife, who 
for once stood against him. She had her not- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 83 



to-be-silenced personal note. She had a hor- 
ror of the alien and unusual. All her life she 
had walked her chalk-line, and anything out- 
side savoured of the mysterious, and terrible. 
She was Anglo-Saxon. She was what her an- 
cestresses had been for generations. The 
strain was unchanged, and had become so tense 
and narrow that it was almost fathomless. 
Mrs. Sturtevant, good and benevolent on 
her chalk-line, was involuntarily a bigot. 
She looked at Chinese laundry men, poor 
little yellow figures, shuffling about with bags 
of soiled linen, with thrills of recoil. She 
would not have acknowledged it to herself, for 
she came of a race which favoured abolition, 
but nothing could have induced her to have a 
coloured girl in her kitchen. Her imagina- 
tions and prejudices were stained as white as 
her skin. There was a lone man living on the 
outskirts of Fairbridge, in a little shack built 
by himself in the woods, who was said to have 
Indian blood in his veins, and Mrs. Sturtevant 
never saw him without that awful thrill of re- 
coil. When the little Orientals, men or women, 
swayed sidewise and bent with their cheap 



84 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



suitcases filled with Eastern handiwork, came to 
the door, she did not draw a long breath until 
she had watched them out of sight down the 
street. It made no difference to her that they 
might be Christians, that they might have suf- 
fered persecution in their own land and sought 
our doorless entrances of hospitality; she still 
realised her own aloofness from them, or rather 
theirs from her. They had entered existence 
entirely outside her chalk-line. She and they 
walked on parallels which to all eternity could 
never meet. 

It therefore came to pass that, although she 
had in the secret depths of her being bemoaned 
her childlessness, and had been conscious of 
yearnings and longings which were agonies, 
when Doctor Sturtevant, after the poor young 
unknown mother had been laid away in the 
Fairbridge cemetery, proposed that they should 
adopt the bereft little one, she rebelled. 

"If he were a white baby, I wouldn't object 
that I know of," said she, "but I can't have 
this kind. I can't make up my mind to it, Ed- 
ward." 

"But, Maria, the child is white. He may not 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 85 



be European, but he is white. That is, while of 
course he has a dark complexion and dark eyes 
and hair, he is as white, in a way, as any child 
in Fairbridge, and he will be a beautiful boy. 
Moreover, we have every reason to believe 
that he was born in wedlock. There was a ring 
on a poor string of a ribbon on the mother's 
neck, and there was a fragment of a letter which 
Von Eosen managed to make out. He thinks 
that the poor child was married to another 
child of her own race. The boy is all right and 
he will be a fine little fellow." 

"It is of no use," said Maria Sturtevant. 
"I can't make up my mind to adopt a baby, 
that belonged to that kind of people. I simply 
can not, Edward." 

Sturtevant gave up the matter for the time 
being. The baby remained at Von Eosen 's 
under the care of Mrs. Bestwick, and Jane 
Eiggs, but when it was a month old, the doctor 
persuaded his wife to go over and see it. 
Maria Sturtevant gazed at the tiny scrap of 
humanity curled up in Jane Eiggs ' darning 
basket, the old-young face creased as softly as 
a rosebud, with none of its beauty, but with a 



86 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



compelling charm. She watched the weak mo- 
tion of the infinitesimal legs and arms beneath 
the soft smother of wrappings, and her heart 
pained her with longing, but she remained firm. 

"It is no use, Edward," she said, when they 
had returned to Von Rosen's study. "I can't 
make up my mind to adopt a baby coming from 
such queer people." Then she was confronted 
by a stare of blank astonishment from Von 
Rosen, and also from Jane Riggs. 

Jane Riggs spoke with open hostility. "I 
don't know that anybody has asked anybody to 
adopt our baby," said she. 

Von Rosen laughed, but he also blushed. He 
spoke rather stammeringly. ""Well, Sturte- 
vant," said he, "the fact is, Jane and I have 
talked it over, and she thinks she can manage, 
and he seems a bright little chap, and — I have 
about made up my mind to keep him myself." 

"He is going to be baptised as soon as he is 
big enough to be taken out of my darning 
basket," said Jane Riggs with defiance, but 
Mrs. Sturtevant regarded her with relief. 

"I dare say he will be a real comfort to 
you," she said, "even if he does come from 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 87 



such queer stock." Her husband looked at 
Yon Bo sen and whistled under his breath. 

"People will talk," he said aside. 

"Let them/' returned Von Eosen. He was 
experiencing a strange new joy of possession, 
which no possibility of ridicule could daunt. 
However, his joy was of short duration. The 
baby was a little over three months old, and 
had been promoted to a crib, and a perambu- 
lator, had been the unconscious recipient of 
many gifts from the women of Von Eosen 's 
parish, and of many calls from admiring little 
girls. Jane had scented the danger. She 
came home from marketing one morning, quite 
pale, and could hardly speak when she entered 
Von Eosen 's study. 

"There's an outlandish young man around 
here," said she, "and you had better keep that 
baby close." 

Von Eosen laughed. "Those people are al- 
ways about," he said. "You have no reason 
to be nervous, Jane. There is hardly a chance 
he has anything to do with the baby, and in any 
case, he would not be likely to burden himself 
with the care of it." 



88 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"Don't yon be too sure," said Jane stoutly, 
"a baby like that!" 

Jane, much against her wishes, was obliged 
to go out that afternoon, and Von Rosen was 
left alone with the baby with the exception of 
a little nurse girl who had taken the place of 
Mrs. Bestwick. Then it was that the Syrian 
man, he was no more than a boy, came. Von 
Rosen did not at first suspect. The Syrian 
spoke very good English, and he was a Chris- 
tian. So he told Von Rosen. Then he also 
told him that the dead girl had been his wife, 
and produced letters signed with the name 
which those in her possession had borne. Von 
Rosen was convinced. There was something 
about the boy with his haughty, almost sullen, 
oriental manner which bore the stamp of truth. 
However, when he demanded only the suit-case 
which his dead wife had brought when she 
came to the house, Von Rosen was relieved. 
He produced it at once, and his wonder and 
disgust mounted to fever heat, when that East- 
ern boy proceeded to take out carefully the 
gauds of feminine handiwork which it con- 
tained, and press them upon Von Rosen at ex- 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 89 



orbitant prices. Yon Rosen was more incensed 
than lie often permitted himself to be. He 
ordered the boy from the house, and he de- 
parted with strong oaths, and veiled and intri- 
cate threats after the manner of his subtle 
race, and when Jane Biggs came home, Yon 
Rosen told her. 

"I firmly believe the young rascal was that 
poor girl's husband, and the boy's father," he 
said. 

" Didn't he ask to have the baby?" 

" Never mentioned such a thing. All he 
wanted was the article of value which the poor 
girl left here." 

Jane Riggs also looked relieved. "Outland- 
ish people are queer," she said. 

But the next morning she rushed into Von 
Rosen's room when he had barely finished 
dressing, sobbing aloud like a child, her face 
rigidly convulsed with grief, and her hands 
waving frantically with no effort to conceal it. 



CHAPTEE IV 

The little Syrian baby had disappeared. No- 
body had reckoned with the soft guile of a race 
as supple and silent as to their real intentions 
as cats. There was a verandah column wound 
with a massive wistaria vine near the window 
of the baby's room. The little nurse girl went 
home every night, and J ane Eiggs was a heavy 
sleeper. When she had awakened, her first 
glance had been into the baby's crib. Then she 
sprang, and searched with hungry hands. The 
little softly indented nest was not warm, the 
child had been gone for some hours, probably 
had been taken during the first and soundest 
sleep of the household. Jane's purse, and her 
gold breast pin, had incidentally been taken 
also. "When she gave the alarm to Von Eosen, 
a sullen, handsome Syrian boy was trudging 
upon an unfrequented road, which led circuit- 
ously to the City, and he carried a suit-case, 
but it was held apart, by some of the Eastern 
embroideries used as wedges, before strapping, 

90 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 91 



and from that came the querulous wail of 3 
baby squirming uncomfortably upon drawn 
work centre pieces, and crepe kimonas. Now 
and then the boy stopped and spoke to the baby 
in a lovely gentle voice. He promised it food, 
and shelter soon in his own soft tongue. He 
was carrying it to his wife's mother, and sullen 
as he looked and was, and thief as he was, love 
for his own swayed him, and made him deter- 
mined to hold it fast. Von Eosen made all pos- 
sible inquiries. He employed detectives but he 
never obtained the least clue to the where- 
abouts of the little child. He, however, al- 
though he grieved absurdly, almost as absurdly 
as Jane, had a curious sense of joy over the 
whole. Life in Fairbridge had, before birth 
and death entered his home, been so monoto- 
nous, that he was almost stupefied. Here was 
a thread of vital gold and flame, although it 
had brought pain with it. When Doctor Stur- 
tevant condoled with him, he met with an un- 
expected response. "I feel for you, old man. 
It was a mighty unfortunate thing that it hap- 
pened in your house, now that this has come 
of it," he said. 



92 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



"I am very glad it happened, whatever came 
of it," said Von Rosen. "It is something to 
have had in my life. I wouldn't have missed 
It" 

Fairbridge people, who were on the whole a 
good-natured set, were very sympathetic, es- 
pecially the women. Bessy Dicky shed tears 
when talking to Mrs. Sturtevant about the dis- 
appearance of the baby. Mrs. Sturtevant was 
not very responsive. 

"It may be all for the best," she said. 
"Nobody can tell how that child would have 
turned out. He might have ended by killing 
Mr. von Rosen." Then she added with a sigh 
that she hoped his poor mother had been mar- 
ried. 

"Why, of course she was since there was a 
baby," said Bessy Dicky. Then she rose has- 
tily with a blush because Doctor Sturtevant 's 
motor could be heard, and took her leave. 

Doctor Sturtevant had just returned from 
a call upon Margaret Edes, who had ex- 
perienced a very severe disappointment, com- 
ing as it did after another very successful meet- 
ing of the Zenith Club at Daisy Shaw's, who 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 93 



had most unexpectedly provided a second 
cousin who recited monologues wonderfully. 
[Wilbur had failed in his attempt to secure 
Lydia Greenway for Margaret's star-feature. 
The actress had promised, but had been sud- 
denly attacked with a very severe cold which 
had obliged her to sail for Europe a week ear- 
lier than she had planned. Margaret had been 
quite ill, but Doctor Sturtevant gave her pain 
pellets with the result that late in the after- 
noon she sat on her verandah in a fluffy white 
tea gown, and then it was that little Annie 
Eustace came across the street, and sat with 
her. Annie was not little. Although slender, 
she was, in fact, quite tall and wide shouldered 
and there was something about her which 
seemed to justify the use of the diminutive ad- 
jective. Possibly it was her face, which was 
really small and very pretty, with perfect 
cameo-like features and an odd, deprecating, 
almost painfully humble expression. It was 
the face of a creature entirely capable of ask- 
ing an enemy's pardon for an injury inflicted 
upon herself. In reality, Annie Eustace had 
very much that attitude of soul. She always 



94 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



considered the wrong as her natural place, and, 
in fact, would not have been comfortable else- 
where, although she suffered there. And yet, 
little Annie Eustace was a gifted creature. 
There was probably not a person in Fair- 
bridge who had been so well endowed by na- 
ture, but her environment and up-bringing 
had been unfortunate. If Annie's mother had 
lived, the daughter might have had more spirit, 
but she had died when Annie was a baby, and 
the child had been given over to the tyranny of 
two aunts, and a grandmother. As for her 
father, he had never married again, but he had 
never paid much attention to her. He had 
been a reserved, silent man, himself under 
the sway of his mother and sisters. Charles 
Eustace had had an obsession to the effect that 
the skies of his own individual sphere would 
fall to his and his child's destruction, if his fe- 
male relatives deserted him, and that they had 
threatened to do, upon the slightest sign of re- 
volt. Sometimes Annie's father had regarded 
her wistfully and wondered within himself if 
it were quite right for a child to be so entirely 
governed, but his own spirit of yielding made 1 



THE BUTTEBFLY HOUSE 95 



it impossible for him to realise the situation. 
Obedience had been little Annie Eustace's first 
lesson taught by the trio, who to her repre- 
sented all government, in her individual case. 

Annie Eustace obeyed her aunts, and grand- 
mother (her father had been dead for several 
years), but she loved only three, — two were 
women, Margaret Edes and Alice Mendon; the 
other was a man, and the love was not con- 
fessed to her own heart. 

This afternoon Annie wore an ugly green 
gown, which was, moreover, badly cut. The 
sleeves were too long below the elbow, and too 
short above, and every time she moved an arm 
they hitched uncomfortably. The neck ar- 
rangement was exceedingly unbecoming, and 
the skirt not well hung. The green was of the 
particular shade which made her look yellow. 
As she gat beside Margaret and embroidered 
assiduously, and very unskilfully, some daisies 
on a linen centre-piece, the other woman eyed 
her critically. 

"You should not wear that shade of green, 
if you will excuse my saying so, dear," she re- 
marked presently. 



96 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Annie regarded her with a charming, loving 
smile. She would have excused her idol for 
saying anything. "I know it is not very; be- 
coming,'' she agreed sweetly. 

"Becoming," said Margaret a trifle vi- 
ciously. She was so out of sorts about her fail- 
ure to secure Lydia Greenway that she felt a 
great relief in attacking little Annie Eustace. 

"Becoming," said she. "It actually makes 
you hideous. That shade is impossible for you 
and why, — I trust you will not be offended, you 
know it is for your own good, dear, — why do 
you wear your hair in that fashion?" 

"I am afraid it is not very becoming," said 
Annie with the meekness of those who inherit 
the earth. She did not state that her aunt 
Harriet had insisted that she dress her hair in 
that fashion. Annie was intensely loyal. 

"Nobody," said Margaret, "unless she were 
as beautiful as Helen of Troy, should wear her 
hair that way, and not look a fright." 

Annie Eustace blushed, but it was not a dis- 
tressed blush. "When one has been downtrod- 
den one's whole life, one becomes accustomed 
to it, and besides she loved the down-treader. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 97 



"Yes," said she. "I looked at myself in my 
glass just before I came and I thought I did 
not look well." 

"Hideous," said Margaret. 

Annie smiled agreement and looked pretty, 
despite the fact that her hair was strained 
tightly back, showing too much of her intellec- 
tual forehead, and the colour of her gown killed 
all the pink bloom lights in her face. Annie 
Eustace had a beautiful soul and it showed 
forth triumphant over all bodily accessories, 
in her smile. 

"You are not doing that embroidery at all 
well," said Margaret. 

Annie laughed. "I know it," she said with 
a sort of meek amusement. "I don't think I 
ever can master long and short stitch." 

"Why on earth do you attempt it then?" 

"Everybody embroiders," replied Annie. 
She did not state that her grandmother had 
made taking the embroidery a condition of her 
call upon her friend. 

Margaret continued to regard her. She was 
finding a species of salve for her own disap- 
pointment in this irritant applied to another. 



98 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



"What does make you wear that hair ring?" 
said she. 

"It was a present," replied Annie humbly, 
but she for the first time looked a little dis- 
turbed. That mourning emblem with her 
father's and mother's, and a departed sister's 
hair in a neat little twist under a small crys- 
tal, grated upon her incessantly. It struck her 
as a species of ghastly sentiment, which at once 
distressed, and impelled her to hysterical 
mirth. 

"A present," repeated Margaret. "If any- 
body gave me such a present as that, I would 
never wear it. It is simply in shocking bad 
taste." 

"I sometimes fear so," said Annie. She did 
not state that her Aunt Jane never allowed her 
to be seen in public without that dismal adorn- 
ment. 

"You are a queer girl," said Margaret, and 
she summed up all her mood of petty cruelty 
and vicarious revenge in that one word 
"queer." 

However, little Annie Eustace only smiled as 
if she had been given a peculiarly acceptable 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 99 



present. She was so used to being underrated, 
that she had become in a measure immune to 
criticism, and besides criticism from her adored 
Mrs. Edes was even a favour. She took 
another bungling stitch in the petal of a white 
floss daisy. 

Margaret felt suddenly irritated. All this 
was too much like raining fierce blows upon a 
down pillow. 

"Do, for goodness sake, Annie Eustace, stop 
doing that awful embroidery if you don't want 
to drive me crazy,' 9 said she. 

Then Annie looked at Margaret, and she was 
obviously distressed and puzzled. Her grand- 
mother had enjoined it upon her to finish just 
so many of these trying daisies before her re- 
turn and yet, on the other hand, here was Mar- 
garet, her adorable Margaret, forbidding her 
to work, and, moreover, Margaret in such an 
irritable mood, with that smooth brow of hers 
frowning, and that sweet voice, which usually 
had a lazy trickle like honey, fairly rasping, was 
as awe-inspiring as her grandmother. Annie 
Eustace hesitated for a second. Her grand- 
mother had commanded. Margaret Edes had 



100 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

commanded. The strongest impulse of her 
whole being was obedience, but she loved 
Margaret, and she did not love her grand- 
mother. She had never confessed such 
a horror to herself, but one does not love 
another human being whose main aim to- 
ward one is to compress, to stiffen, to make 
move in a step with itself. Annie folded up 
the untidy embroidery. As she did so, she 
dropped her needle and also her thimble. The 
needle lay glittering beside her chair, the thim- 
ble rolled noiselessly over the trailing fold of 
her muslin gown into the folds of Margaret's 
white silk. Margaret felt an odd delight in 
that. Annie was careless, and she was dainty, 
and she was conscious of a little pleasurable 
preening of her own soul-plumage. 

Margaret said nothing about the thimble and 
needle. Annie sat regarding her with a sort 
of expectation, and the somewhat mussy little 
parcel of linen lay in her lap. Annie folded 
over it her very slender hands, and the horrible 
hair ring was in full evidence. 

Margaret fixed her eyes upon it. Annie 
quickly placed the hand which wore it under 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 101 



the other. Then she spoke, since Margaret did 
not, and she said exactly the wrong thing. The 
being forced continually into the wrong, often 
has the effect of making one quite innocently 
take the first step in that direction even if no 
force be used. 

"I hear that the last meeting of the Zenith 
Club was unusually interesting," said little 
Annie Eustace, and she could have said nothing 
more hapless to Margaret Edes in her present 
mood. Quite inadvertently, she herself be- 
came the irritant party. Margaret actually 
flushed. "I failed to see anything interesting 
whatever about it, myself," said she tartly. 

Annie offended again. "I heard that Mrs. 
Sarah J oy Snyder 's address was really very re- 
markable," said she. 

"It was simply a very stupid effort to be 
funny," returned Margaret. "Sometimes 
women will laugh because they are expected to, 
and they did that afternoon. Everything was 
simply cut and dried. It always is at Mrs. 
George B. Slade's. I never knew a woman so 
absolutely destitute of originality." 

Annie looked helplessly at Margaret. She 



102 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



could say no more unless she contradicted. 
Margaret continued. She felt that she could 
no longer conceal her own annoyance, and she 
was glad of this adoring audience of one. 

"I had planned something myself for the 
next meeting, something which has never been 
done," said she, "something new, and stimu- 
lating." 

"Oh, how lovely!" cried Annie. 

"But of course, like all really clever plans 
for the real good and progress of a club like 
ours, something has to come up to prevent," 
said Margaret. 

"Oh, what?" 

"Well, I had planned to have Lydia Green- 
way, you know she is really a great artist, come 
to the next meeting and give dramatic recita- 
tions." 

"Oh, would she?" gasped Annie Eustace. 

"Of course, it would have meant a large pe- 
cuniary outlay," said Margaret, "but I was 
prepared, quite prepared, to make some sacri- 
fices for the good of the club, but, why, yon 
must have read it in the papers, Annie." 

Annie looked guiltily ignorant. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 103 

"I really do not see how yon contrive to ex- 
ist without keeping more in touch with the cur- 
rent events," said Margaret. 

Annie looked meekly culpable, although she 
was not. Her aunts did not approve of news- 
papers, as containing so much information, so 
much cheap information concerning the evil in 
the world, especially for a young person like 
Annie, and she was not allowed to read them, 
although she sometimes did so surreptitiously. 

"It was in all the papers," continued Mar- 
garet, with her censorious air. "Lydia Green- 
way was obliged to leave unexpectedly and go 
to the Eiveria. They fear tuberculosis. She 
sailed last Saturday." 

"I am so sorry," said Annie. Then she pro- 
ceeded to elaborate her statement in exactly 
the wrong way. She said how very dreadful 
it would be if such a talented young actress 
should fall a victim of such a terrible disease, 
and what a loss she would be to the public, 
whereas all that Margaret Edes thought should 
be at all considered by any true friend of her 
own was her own particular loss. 

"For once the Zenith Club would have had a 



104 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



meeting calculated to take Fairbridge women 
out of their rut in which people like Mrs. Slade 
and Mrs. Sturtevant seem determined to keep 
them/' returned Margaret testily. Annie 
stared at her. Margaret often said that it was 
the first rule of her life never to speak ill of 
any one, and she kept the letter of it as a rule, 

"I am so sorry/' said Annie. Then she 
added with more tact. "It would have been 
such a wonderful thing for us all to have had 
Lydia Greenway give dramatic recitals to us. 
Oh, Margaret, I can understand how much it 
would have meant." 

"It would have meant progress," said Mar- 
garet. She looked imperiously lovely, as she 
sat there all frilled about with white lace and 
silk with the leaf-shadows playing over the 
slender whiteness. She lifted one little hand 
tragically. * 1 Progress, ' ' she repeated. 1 1 Prog- 
ress beyond Mrs. George B. Slade 's and Mrs. 
Sturtevant 's and Miss Bessy Dicky's, and 
that is precisely what we need." 

Annie Eustace gazed wistfully upon her 
friend. "Yes," she agreed, "you are quite 
right, Margaret. Mrs. Slade and Mrs, Sturte- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 105 



yant and poor Bessy Dicky and all the other 
members are very good, and we think highly of 
them, but I too feel that we all travel in a rut 
sometimes. Perhaps we all walk too much the 
same way." Then suddenly Annie burst into 
a peal of laughter. She had a sense of humour 
which was startling. It was the one thing 
which environment had not been able to subdue, 
or even produce the effect of submission. 
Annie Eustace was easily amused. She had a 
scent for the humorous like a hound's for game, 
and her laugh was irrepressible. 

"What on earth are you laughing at now?" 
inquired Margaret Edes irritably. 

"I was thinking," Annie replied chokingly, 
"of some queer long-legged birds I saw once 
in a cage in a park. I really don't know 
whether they were ibises or cranes, or survivals 
of species, but anyway, the little long-legged 
ones all walked just the same way in a file be- 
hind a tall long-legged one, who walked precisely 
in the same way, and all of a sudden, I seemed 
to see us all like that. Only you are not in the 
least like that tall, long-legged bird, Margaret, 
and you are the president of the Zenith Club." 



106 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Margaret surveyed Annie with cool displeas- 
ure. "I," said she, "see nothing whatever to 
laugh at in the Zenith Club, if you do." 

"Oh, Margaret, I don't!" cried Annie. 

"To my mind, the Zenith Club is the one in- 
stitution in this little place which tends to ad- 
vancement and mental improvement." 

"Oh, Margaret, I think so too, you know I 
do," said Annie in a shocked voice. "And my 
heart was almost broken because I had to miss 
that last meeting on account of grandmother's 
having such a severe cold." 

"The last meeting was not very much to 
miss," said Margaret, for Annie had again 
said the wrong thing. 

Annie, however, went on eagerly and uncon- 
sciously. She was only aware that she was be- 
ing accused of disloyalty, or worse, of actually 
poking fun, when something toward which she 
felt the utmost respect and love and admira- 
tion was concerned. 

"Margaret, you know," she cried, "you 
know how I feel toward the Zenith Club. You 
must know what it means to me. It really does 
take me out of my little narrow place in life as 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 107 



nothing else does. I cannot tell you what an 
inspiration it really is to me. Oh, Margaret, 
you know!" 

Margaret nodded in stiff assent. !As a mat- 
ter of fact, she did know. The Zenith Club of 
Fairbridge did mean very much, very much in- 
deed, to little Annie Eustace. Nowhere else 
did she meet en masse others of her kind. She 
did not even go to church for the reason that 
her grandmother did not believe in church 
going at all and wished her to remain with her. 
One aunt was Dutch Reformed and the other 
Baptist; and neither ever missed a service. 
Annie remained at home Sundays, and read 
aloud to her grandmother, and when both aunts 
were in the midst of their respective services, 
and the cook, who was intensely religious, en- 
gaged in preparing dinner, she and her old 
grandmother played pinocle. However, al- 
though Annie played cards very well, it was 
only with her relatives. She had never been 
allowed to join the Fairbridge Card Club. 
She never attended a play in the city, because 
Aunt Jane considered plays wicked. It was in 
reality doubtful if she would have been per- 



108 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

mitte'd to listen to Lydia Greenway, had that 
person been available. Annie's sole large rec- 
reation was the Zenith Club, and it meant, as 
she had said, niuch to her. It was to the 
stifled young heart as a great wind of stimu- 
lus which was for the strengthening of her 
soul. Whatever the Zenith Club of Fair- 
bridge was to others, it was very much 
worth while for little Annie Eustace. She 
wrote papers for it, which were astonishing, 
although her hearers dimly appreciated the 
fact, not because of dulness, but because little 
Annie had written them, and it seemed incred- 
ible to Fairbridge women that little Annie 
Eustace whom they had always known, and 
whose grandmother and aunts they knew, 
could possibly write anything remarkable. It 
was only Alice Mendon who listened with a 
frown of wonder, and intent eyes upon the 
reader. TThen she came home upon one occa- 
sion, she remarked to her aunt, Eliza Mendon, 
and her cousin, Lucy Mendon, that she had 
been impressed by Annie Eustace's paper, but 
both women only stared and murmured assent. 
The cousin was very much older than Alice, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 109 



and both she and her mother were of a placid, 
reflective type. They got on very well with 
'Alice, but sometimes she had a queer weariness 
from always seeing herself and her own ideas 
in them instead of their own. And she was 
not in the least dictatorial. She would have 
preferred open, antagonistic originality, but 
she got a surfeit of clear, mirror-like peace. 

She was quite sure that they would quote her 
opinion of Annie Eustace's paper, but that did 
not please her. Later on she spoke to Annie 
herself about it. "Haven't you something else 
written that you can show me?" She had even 
suggested the possibility, the desirability, of 
Annie's taking up a literary career, but she had 
found the girl very evasive, even secretive, and 
had never broached the subject again. 

As for Margaret Edes, she had never fairly 
listened to anything which anybody except her- 
self had written, unless it had afforded matter 
for discussion, and the display of her own bril- 
liancy. Annie's productions were so modestly 
conclusive as to apparently afford no standing 
ground for argument. In her heart, Margaret 
regarded them as she regarded Annie's person- 



110 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



ality, with a contempt so indifferent that it was 
hardly contempt. 

She proceeded exactly as if Annie had not 
made such a fervent disclaimer. "The Zenith 
Club is the one and only thing which lifts 
Fairbridge, and the women of Fairbridge, above 
the common herd," said she majestically. 

"Don't I know it? Oh, Margaret, don't I 
know it," cried the other with such feverish 
energy that Margaret regarded her wonder- 
ingly. For all her exploiting of the Zenith 
Club of Fairbridge, she herself, unless she were 
the main figure at the helm, could realise noth- 
ing in it so exceedingly inspiring, but it was 
otherwise with Annie. It was quite conceiv- 
able that had it not been for the Zenith Club, 
she never would have grown to her full mental 
height. Annie Eustace had a mind of the se- 
quential order. By subtle processes, unanalysa- 
ble even by herself, even the record of Miss 
Bessy Dicky started this mind upon momentous 
trains of thought. Unquestionably the Zenith 
Club acted as a fulminate for little Annie Eus- 
tace. To others it might seem, during some of 
the sessions, as a pathetic attempt of village 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 111 

women to raise themselves upon tiptoes enough 
to peer over their centuries of weedy feminine 
growth; an attempt which was as futile, 
and even ridiculous, as an attempt of a cow to 
fly. But the Zenith Club justified its existence 
nobly in the result of little Annie Eustace, if in 
no other, and it, no doubt, justified itself in 
others. Who can say what that weekly gath- 
ering meant to women who otherwise would 
not move outside their little treadmill of house- 
hold labour, what uplifting, if seemingly futile 
grasps at the great outside of life? Let no one 
underrate the "Women's Club until the years 
have proven its uselessness. 

"I am so sorry about Lydia Greenway," said 
Annie, and this time she did not irritate Mar- 
garet. 

"It does seem as if one were simply doomed 
to failure every time one really made an effort 
to raise standards," said Margaret. 

Then it was that Annie all unconsciously 
sowed a seed which led to strange, and rather 
terrifying results. "It would be nice," said 
little Annie, "if we could get Miss Martha 
Wallingford to read a selection from Hearts 



112 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Astray at a meeting of the club. I read a Jew 
nights ago, in a paper I happened to pick up at 
Alice's, that she was staying in New York at 
the Hollingsgate. Her publishers were to give 
her a dinner last night, I believe." 

Margaret Edes started. "I had not seen 
that," she said. Then she added in a queer 
brooding fashion, "That book of hers had an 
enormous sale. I suppose her publishers feel 
that they owe it to her to give her a good time 
in New York. Then, too, it will advertise 
Hearts "Astray ." 

"Did you like the book?" asked Annie rather 
irrelevantly. Margaret did not reply. She 
was thinking intently. "It would be a great 
feature for the club if we could induce her to 
give a reading," she said at length. 

"I don't suppose it would be possible," re- 
plied Annie. "You know they say she never 
does such things, and is very retiring. I read 
in the papers that she was, and that she refused 
even to speak a few words at the dinner given 
in her honour." 

"We might ask her," said Margaret. 

"I am sure that she would not come. The 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 113 

paper stated that she had had many invitations 
to Women's Clubs and had refused. I don't 
think she ought because she might be such a 
help to other women." 

Margaret said nothing. She leaned back, 
and, for once, her face was actually contracted 
with thought to the possible detriment of its 
smooth beauty. 

A clock in the house struck, and at the same 
time Maida and Adelaide raced up the steps, 
followed by gleeful calls from two little boys 
on the sidewalk. 

" Where have you been? 9 ' asked Margaret. 
Then she said without waiting for a reply, "If 
Martha Wallingford would come, I should pre- 
fer that to Lydia Greenway." 

Maida and Adelaide, flushed and panting, 
and both with mouths full of candy, glanced at 
their mother, then Maida chased Adelaide into 
the house, their blue skirts flitting out of sight 
like blue butterfly wings. 

Annie Eustace rose. She had noticed that 
neither Maida nor Adelaide had greeted her, 
and thought them rude. She herself had been 
most carefully trained concerning manners of 



114 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

incoming and outgoing. She, however, did not 
care. She had no especial love for children 
unless they were small and appealing because 
of helplessness. 

"I must go," she said. "It is six o'clock, 
supper will be ready." She glanced rather ap- 
prehensively as she spoke at the large white 
house, not two minutes 9 walk distant across 
the street. 

"How very delightful it is to Be as punctual 
as your people are," said Margaret. "Good- 
bye, Annie." She spoke abstractedly, and 
Annie felt a little hurt. She loved Margaret, 
and she missed her full attention when she left 
her. She passed down the walk between Mar- 
garet's beautifully kept Japanese trees, and 
gained the sidewalk. Then a sudden recollec- 
tion filled her with dismay. She had promised 
her grandmother to go to the post-office before 
returning. An important business letter was 
expected. Annie swept the soft tail of her 
muslin into a little crushed ball, and ran, her 
slender legs showing like those of a young bird 
beneath its fluff of plumage. She realized the 
necessity of speed, of great speed, for the post- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 115 



office was a quarter of a mile away, and the 
Eustace family supped at five minutes past six, 
with terrible and relentless regularity. Why 
it should have been five minutes past instead 
of upon the stroke of the hour, Annie had never 
known, but so it was. It was as great an offence 
to be a minute too early as a minute too late 
at the Eustace house, and many a maid had 
been discharged for that offence, her plea that 
the omelet was cooked and would fall if the 
meal be delayed, being disregarded. Poor 
Annie felt that she must hasten. She could not 
be dismissed like the maid, but something 
equally to be dreaded would happen, were she 
to present herself half a minute behind time in 
the dining-room. There they would be seated, 
her grandmother, her Aunt Harriet, and her 
Aunt Jane. Aunt Harriet behind the silver 
tea service; Aunt Jane behind the cut glass 
bowl of preserves; her grandmother behind 
the silver butter dish, and on the table would 
be the hot biscuits cooling, the omelet falling, 
the tea drawing too long and all because of 
her. There was tremendous etiquette in the 
Eustace family. Not a cup of tea would Aunt 



116 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Harriet pour, not a spoon would Aunt Jane dip 
into the preserves, not a butter ball would her 
grandmother impale upon the little silver fork. 
And poor Hannah, the maid, white aproned and 
capped, would stand behind Aunt Harriet like 
a miserable conscious graven image. There- 
fore Annie ran, and ran, and it happened that 
she ran rather heedlessly and blindly and 
dropped her mussy little package of fancy 
work, and Karl von Rosen, coming out of the 
parsonage, saw it fall and picked it up rather 
gingerly, and called as loudly as was decorous 
after the flying figure, but Annie did not hear 
and Von Rosen did not want to shout, neither 
did he want, or rather think it advisable, to 
run, therefore he followed holding the linen 
package well away from him, as if it were a 
disagreeable insect. He had never seen much 
of Annie Eustace. Now and then he called 
upon one of her aunts, who avowed her prefer- 
ence for his religious denomination, but if he 
saw Annie at all, she was seated engaged upon 
some such doubtfully ornamental or useful 
task, as the specimen which he now carried. 
Truth to say, he had scarcely noticed Annie* 



iTHE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 117 



Eustace at all. She had produced the effect of 
shrinking from observation under some subtle 
shadow of self-effacement. She was in reality 
a very rose of a girl, loving and sweet, and 
withal wonderfully endowed; but this human 
rose, dwelt always for Karl von Rosen, in the 
densest of bowers through which her beauty and 
fragrance of character could not penetrate his 
senses. Undoubtedly also, although his mascu- 
line intelligence would have scouted the possi- 
bility of such a thing, Annie's dull, ill-made 
garb served to isolate her. She also never 
came to church. That perfect little face with 
its expression of strange insight, must have 
aroused his attention among his audience. But 
there was only the Aunt Harriet Eustace, an 
exceedingly thin lady, present and always at- 
tired in rich blacks. Karl von Rosen to-day 
walking as rapidly as became his dignity, in 
pursuit of the young woman, was aware that 
he hardly felt at liberty to accost her with any- 
thing more than the greeting of the day. He 
eyed disapprovingly the parcel which he car- 
ried. It was a very dingy white, and greyish 
threads dangled from it. Von Rosen thought 



118 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



it a most unpleasant thing, and reflected with 
mild scorn and bewilderment concerning the 
manner of mind which could find amusement 
over such employment, for he divined that it 
was a specimen of feminine skill, called fancy 
work. 

Annie Eustace ran so swiftly with those long 
agile legs of hers that he soon perceived that in- 
terception upon her return, and not overtaking, 
must ensue. He did not gain upon her at all, 
and he began to understand that he was mak- 
ing himself ridiculous to possible observers in 
windows. He therefore slackened his pace, 
and met Annie upon her return. She had a let- 
ter in her hand and was advancing with a head- 
long rush, and suddenly she attracted him. He 
surrendered the parcel. " Thank you very 
much," said Annie, "but I almost wish you had 
not found it." 

Von Eosen stared at her. Was she rude 
after all, this very pretty girl, who was capa- 
ble of laughter. "You would not blame me if 
you had to embroider daisies on that dreadful 
piece of linen,' ' said Annie with a rueful 
glance at the dingy package. 



"I almost wish you had not found it" 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 119 



Von Eosen smiled kindly at her. "I don't 
blame you at all," lie replied. "I can under- 
stand it must be a dismal task to embroider 
daisies." 

"It is, Mr. yon Eosen — " Annie hesitated. 

"Yes," said Von Eosen encouragingly. 

"You know I never go to church." 

"Yes," said Von Eosen mendaciously. He 
really did not know. In future he, however, 
would. 

"Well, I don't go because — " again Annie 
hesitated, while the young man waited inter- 
rogatively. 

Then Annie spoke with force. "I would 
really like to go occasionally," she said, "I 
doubt if I would always care to." 

"No, I don't think you would," assented Von 
Eosen with a queer delight. 

"But I never can because — Grandmother is 
old and she has not much left in life, you 
know." 

"Of course." 

"It is all very well for people to talk about 
firesides, and knitting work, and peaceful eyes 
of age fixed upon Heavenly homes," said 



120 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Annie, "but all old people are not like that. 
Grandma hates to knit although she does think 
I should embroider daisies, and she does like 
to have me play pinocle with her Sunday morn- 
ings, when Aunt Harriet and Aunt Jane are 
out of the way. It is the only chance she has 
during the whole week you know because 
neither Aunt Harriet nor Aunt Jane approves 
of cards, and poor Grandma is so fond of them, 
it seems cruel not to play with her the one 
chance she has." 

"I think you are entirely right, " said Von 
Eosen with grave conviction and he was 
charmed that the girl regarded him as if he had 
said nothing whatever unusual. 

"I have always been sure that it was right,' * 
said Annie Eustace, "but I would like some- 
times to go to church." 

"I really wish you could,'*' said Von Eosen, 
"and I would make an especial effort to write 
a good sermon." 

"Oh," said Annie, "Aunt Harriet often 
hears you preach one which she thinks very 
good." 

Von Eosen bowed. Suddenly Annie's shy- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 121 



ness, reserve, whatever it was, seemed to over- 
cloud her. The lovely red faded from her 
cheeks, the light from her eyes. She lost her 
beauty in a great measure. She bowed stiffly, 
saying:'" I thank you very much, good even- 
ing,' ' and passed on, leaving the young man 
rather dazed, pleased and yet distinctly an- 
noyed, and annoyed in some inscrutable fashion 
at himself. 

Then he heard shouts of childish laughter, 
and a scamper of childish feet, and Maida and 
Adelaide Edes rushed past, almost jostling 
him from the sidewalk. Maida carried a 
letter, which her mother had written, and dis- 
patched to the last mail. And that letter was 
destined to be of more importance to Von 
Eosen than he knew. 

As for Annie Eustace, whose meeting with 
Yon Eosen had, after her first lapse into the 
unconsciousness of mirth, disturbed her, as the 
meeting of the hero of a dream always dis- 
turbs a true maiden who has not lost through 
many such meetings the thrill of them, she hur- 
ried home trembling, and found everything just 
exactly as she knew it would be. 



122 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



There sat Aunt Harriet perfectly motionless 
behind the silver tea service, and although the 
cosy was drawn over the teapot, the tea seemed 
to be reproachfully drawing to that extent that 
Annie could hear it. There sat Aunt Jane be- 
hind the cut glass bowl of preserved fruit, with 
the untouched silver spoon at hand. There sat 
her grandmother behind the butter plate. 
There stood Hannah, white capped and white 
aproned, holding the silver serving tray like a 
petrified statue of severity, and not one of them 
spoke, but their silence, their dignified, re- 
proachful silence was infinitely worse than a 
torrent of invective. How Annie wished they 
would speak. How she wished that she could 
speak herself, but she knew better than to even 
offer an excuse for her tardiness. Well she 
knew that the stony silence which would meet 
that would be worse, much worse than this. 
So she slid into her place opposite her Aunt 
Jane, and began her own task of dividing into 
sections the omelet which was quite flat be- 
cause she was late, and seemed to reproach her 
in a miserable, low-down sort of fashion. 

However, there was in the girl's heart a little 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 123 



glint of youthful joy, which was unusual. She 
had met Mr. Von Eosen and had forgotten her- 
self, that is at first, and he had looked kindly at 
her* There was no foolish hope in little Annie 
Eustace's heart; there would be no spire of as- 
piration added to her dreams because of the 
meeting, but she tasted the sweet of approba- 
tion, and it was a tonic which she sorely needed, 
and which inspired her to self-assertion in a 
childishly naughty and mischievous way. It 
was after supper that evening, that Annie 
strolled a little way down the street, taking ad- 
vantage of Miss Bessy Dicky's dropping in for 
a call, to slink unobserved out of her 
shadowy corner, for the Eustaces were fond 
of sitting in the twilight. The wind had 
come up, the violent strong wind which comes 
out of the south, and Annie walked very near 
the barberry hedge which surrounded Doctor 
Sturtevant's grounds, and the green muslin 
lashed against it to its undoing. When Annie 
returned, the skirt was devastated and Aunt 
Harriet decreed that it could not be mended 
and must be given to the poor Joy children. 
There were many of those children of a degen- 



124 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

erate race, living on the outskirts of Fairbridge, 
and Annie had come to regard them as living 
effigies of herself, since everything which she 
had outgrown or injured past repair, fell to 
them. " There will be enough to make two nice 
dresses for Charlotte and Minnie Joy," said 
Aunt Harriet, "and it will not be wasted, even 
if you have been so careless, Annie." 

Annie could see a vision of those two little 
Joy girls getting about in the remnants of her 
ghastly muslin, and she shuddered, although 
with relief. 

"You had better wear your cross barred 
white muslin afternoons now," said Aunt Har- 
riet, and Annie smiled for that was a pretty 
dress. She smiled still more when Aunt Jane 
said that now as the cross-barred white was to 
be worn every day, another dress must be 
bought, and she mentioned China silk — some- 
thing which Annie had always longed to own — 
and blue, dull blue, — a colour which she loved. 

Just before she went to bed, Annie stood in 
the front doorway looking out at the lovely 
moonlight and the wonderful shadows which 
transformed the village street, like the wings 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 125 



of angels, and she heard voices and laughter 
from the Edes' house opposite. Then Mar- 
garet began singing in her shrill piercing voice 
from which she had hoped much, but which had 
failed to please, even at the Zenith Club. 

Annie adored Margaret, but she shrank be- 
fore her singing voice. If she had only known 
what was passing through the mind of the 
singer after she went to bed that night, she 
would have shuddered more, for Margaret Edes 
was planning a possible coup before which 
Annie, in spite of a little latent daring of her 
own, would have been aghast. 



CHAPTER V 

The next morning Margaret announced her- 
self as feeling so much better that she thought 
she would go to New York. She had several 
errands, she said, and the day was beautiful 
and the little change would do her good. She 
would take the train with her husband, but a 
different ferry, as she wished to go up town. 
Wilbur acquiesced readily. "It is a mighty 
fine morning, and you need to get out," he said. 
Poor Wilbur at this time felt guiltily culpable 
that he did not own a motor car in which his 
Margaret might take the air. He had tried to 
see his way clear toward buying one, but in 
spite of a certain improvidence, the whole na- 
ture of the man was intrinsically honest. He al- 
ways ended his conference with himself concern- 
ing the motor by saying that he could not possi- 
bly keep it running, even if he were to manage 
the first cost, and pay regularly his other bills. 
He, however, felt it to be a shame to himself 
that it was so, and experienced a thrill of pos- 

126 



THE BUTTEBFLY HOUSE 127 



itlve pain of covetousness, not for himself, but 
for his Margaret, when one of the luxurious 
things whirled past him in Fairbridge. He, 
it was true, kept a very smart little carriage 
and horse, but that was not as much as Mar- 
garet should have. Every time Margaret 
seemed a little dull, or complained of headache, 
as she had done lately, he thought miserably of 
that motor car, which was her right. There- 
fore when she planned any little trip like that 
of to-day, he was immeasurably pleased. At 
the same time he regarded her with a slightly 
bewildered expression, for in some subtle fash- 
ion, her face as she propounded the trifling plan, 
looked odd to him, and her voice also did not 
sound quite natural. However, he dismissed 
the idea at once as mere fancy, and watched 
proudly the admiring glances bestowed upon 
her in the Fairbridge station, while they were 
waiting for the train. Margaret had a pecul- 
iar knack in designing costumes which were 
at once plain and striking. This morning she 
wore a black China silk, through the thin bodice 
of which was visible an under silk strewn with 
gold disks. Her girdle was clasped with a gold 



128 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 

buckle, and when she moved there were slight 
glimpses of a yellow silk petticoat. Her hat 
was black, but under the brim was tucked a 
yellow rose against her yellow hair. Then to fin- 
ish all, Margaret wore in the lace at her throat, 
a great brooch of turquoise matrix, which 
matched her eyes. Her husband realised her 
as perfectly attired, although he did not in the 
least understand why. He knew that his Mar- 
garet looked a woman of another race from the 
others in the station, in their tailored skirts, 
and shirtwaists, with their coats over arm, and 
their shopping bags firmly clutched. It was a 
warm morning, and feminine Fairb ridge 's idea 
of a suitable costume for a New York shopping 
trip was a tailored suit, and a shirtwaist, and 
as a rule, the shirtwaist did not fit. Margaret 
never wore shirtwaists, — she understood that 
she was too short unless she combined a white 
skirt with a waist. Margaret would have 
broken a commandment with less hesitation 
than she would have broken the line of her 
graceful little figure with two violently con- 
trasting colours. Mrs. Sturtevant in a grey 
skirt and an elaborate white waist, which em- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 129 



phasised her large bust, looked ridiculous be- 
side this fair, elegant little Margaret, although 
her clothes had in reality cost more. Wilbur 
watched his wife as she talked sweetly with the 
other woman, and his heart swelled with the 
pride of possession. When they were on the 
train and he sat by himself in the smoker, hav- 
ing left Margaret with Mrs. Sturtevant, his 
heart continued to feel warm with elation. He 
waited to assist his wife off the train at Jersey 
City and realised it a trial that he could not 
cross the river on the same ferry. Margaret 
despised the tube and he wished for the short 
breath of sea air which he would get on the 
Courtland ferry. He glanced after her re- 
treating black skirts with the glimpses of yel- 
low, regretfully, before he turned his back and 
turned toward his own slip. And he glanced 
the more regretfully because this morning, with 
all his admiration of his wife, he had a dim 
sense of something puzzling which arose like a 
cloud of mystery between them. 

Wilbur Edes sailing across the river had, 
however, no conception of the change which had 
begun in his little world. It was only a shake 



130 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



of the kaleidoscope of an unimportant life, re- 
sulting in a different combination of atoms, but 
to each individual it would be a tremendous 
event partaking of the nature of a cataclysm. 
That morning he had seen upon Margarets 
charming face an expression which made it 
seem as the face of a stranger. He tried to dis- 
miss the matter from his mind. He told him- 
self that it must have been the effect of the 
light or that she had pinned on her hat at a 
different angle. Women are so perplexing, 
and their attire alters them so strangely. But 
Wilbur Edes had reason to be puzzled. Mar- 
garet had looked and really was different. In 
a little while she had become practically 
a different woman. Of course, she had only 
developed possibilities which had always been 
dormant within her, but they had been so 
dormant, that they had not been to any 
mortal perception endowed with life. Hitherto 
Margaret had walked along the straight 
and narrow way, sometimes, it is true, 
jostling circumstances and sometimes being 
jostled by them, yet keeping to the path. Now 
she had turned her feet into that broad way 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 131 



wherein there is room for the utmost self which 
is in ns all. Henceforth husband and wife 
would walk apart in a spiritual sense, unless 
there should come a revolution in the character 
of the wife, who was the stepper aside. 

Margaret seated comfortably on the ferry 
boat, her little feet crossed so discreetly that 
only a glimpse of the yellow fluff beneath was 
yisible, was conscious of a not unpleasurable 
exhilaration. She might and she might not be 
about to do something which would place her 
distinctly outside the pale which had hence- 
forth enclosed her little pleasance of life. 
Were she to cross that pale, she felt that it 
might be distinctly amusing. Margaret was 
not a wicked woman, but virtue, not virtue in 
the ordinary sense of the word, but straight 
walking ahead according to the ideas of Fair- 
bridge, had come to drive her at times to the 
verge of madness. Then, too, there was always 
that secret terrible self-love and ambition of 
hers, never satisfied, always defeated by petty 
weapons. Margaret, sitting as gracefully as a 
beautiful cat, on the ferry boat that morning 
realised the vindictive working of her claws, 



132 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 

and Her impulse to strike at her odds of life, 
and she derived therefrom an unholy exhilara- 
tion. 

She got Eer taxicab on the other side and 
leaned back, catching frequent glances of ad- 
miration, and rode pleasurably to the regal 
up-town hotel which was the home of Miss 
Martha Wallingford, while in the city. She, 
upon her arrival, entered the hotel with an air 
which caused a stir among bell boys. Then she 
entered a reception room and sat down, dis- 
posing herself with slow grace. Margaret 
gazed about her and waited. There were only 
three people in the room, one man and two 
ladies, one quite young — a mere girl — the other 
from the resemblance and superior age, evi- 
dently her mother. The man was young and 
almost vulgarly well-groomed. He had given 
a glance at Margaret as she entered, a glance of 
admiration tempered with the consideration 
that in spite of her grace and beauty, she was 
probably older than himself. Then he contin- 
ued to gaze furtively at the young girl who sat 
demurely, with eyes downcast beneath a soft, 
wild tangle of dark hair, against which some 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 133 



pink roses and a blue feather on her hat showed 
fetchingly. She was very well dressed, evi- 
dently a well-guarded young thing from one of 
the summer colonies. The mother, high cor- 
seted, and elegant in dark bine lines, which 
made only a graceful concession to age, without 
fairly admitting it, never allowed one glance of 
the young man's to escape her. She also saw 
her slender young daughter with every sense 
in her body and mind. 

Margaret looked away from them. The 
elder woman had given her costume an appre- 
ciative, and herself a supercilious glance, which 
had been met with one which did not seem to 
recognise her visibility. Margaret was not 
easily put down by another woman. She 
stared absently at the ornate and weary decora- 
tions of the room. It was handsome, but tire- 
some, as everybody who entered realised, and 
as, no doubt, the decorator had found out. It 
was a ready-made species of room, with no 
heart in it, in spite of the harmonious colour 
scheme and really artistic detail. 

Presently the boy vrith the silver tray entered 
and approached Margaret. The young man 



134 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



stared openly at her. He began to wonder if 
she were not younger than he had thought. 
The girl never raised her downcast eyes; the 
older woman cast one swift sharp glance at her. 
The boy murmured so inaudibly that Margaret 
barely heard, and she rose and followed him as 
he led the way to the elevator. Miss Walling- 
ford, who was a young Western woman and a 
rising, if not already arisen literary star, had 
signified her willingness to receive Mrs. "Wil- 
bur Edes in her own private sitting-room. 
Margaret was successful so far. She had pen- 
cilled on her card, "Can you see me on a mat- 
ter of importance? I am not connected with 
the Press, 99 and the young woman who es- 
teemed nearly everything of importance, and 
was afraid of the Press, had agreed at once to 
see her. Miss Martha Wallingford was stay- 
ing in the hotel with an elderly aunt, against 
whose rule she rebelled in spite of her youth 
and shyness, which apparently made it impos- 
sible for her to rebel against anybody, and the 
aunt had retired stiffly to her bedroom when her 
niece said positively that she would see her 
caller. 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 135 

"You don't know who slie is and I promised 
your Pa when we started that I wouldn't let 
you get acquainted with folks unless I knew all 
about them," the aunt had said and the niece, 
the risen star, had set her mouth hard. "Wei 
haven't seen a soul except those newspaper 
men, and I know everyone of them is married, 
and those two newspaper women who told about 
my sleeves being out of date," said Martha 
Wallingford, "and this Mrs. Edes may be real 
nice. I'm going to see her anyhow. We came 
so late in the season that I believe everybody 
in New York worth seeing has gone away and 
this lady has come in from the country and it 
may lead to my having a good time after all. 
I haven't had much of a time so far, and you 
know it, Aunt Susan." 

"How you talK, Martha Wallingford! 
Haven't you been to the theatre every night 
and Coney Island, and the Metropolitan and — 
everything there is to see?" 

"There isn't much to see in New York any- 
way except the people," returned the niece. 
"People are all I care for anyway, and I 
don't call the people I have seen worth count- 



136 THE BUTTEBFLY HOUSE 



ing. They only came to make a little money 
out of me and my sleeves. I am glad I got this 
dress at McCreery's. These sleeves are all 
right. If this Mrs. Edes should be a news- 
paper woman, she can't make fun of these 
sleeves anyway." 

"You paid an awful price for that dress," 
said her aunt. 

"I don't care. I got such a lot for my book 
that I might as well have a little out of it, and 
you know as well as I do, Aunt Susan, that 
South Mordan, Illinois, may be a very nice 
place, but it does not keep up with New York 
fashions. I really did not have a decent thing 
to wear when I started. Miss Slocumb did as 
well as she knew how, but her ideas are about 
three years behind New York. I didn't know 
myself, how should I? And you didn't, and as 
for Pa, he would think everything I had on was 
stylish if it dated back to the ark. You ought 
to have bought that mauve silk for yourself. 
You have money enough; you know you have, 
Aunt Susan." 

"I have money enough, thanks to my dear 
husband's saving all his life, but it is not going 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 137 



to be squandered on dress by me, now be is dead 
and gone. ' ' 

"I would bave bought tbe dress for yon my- 
self, then," said tbe niece. 

"No, tbank you," returned tbe aunt witb as- 
perity. "I bave never been in tbe babit of be- 
ing beholden to you for my clothes and I am 
not going to begin now. I didn't want that 
dress anyway. I always hated purple." 

"It wasn't purple, it was mauve." 

"I call purple, purple, I don't call it anything 
else!" Then the aunt retreated precipitately 
before the sound of the opening door and en- 
trenched herself in her bedroom, where she 
stood listening. 

Margaret Edes treated the young author with 
the respect which she really deserved, for tal- 
ent she possessed in such a marked degree as 
to make her phenomenal, and the phenomenal 
is always entitled to consideration of some sort. 

"Miss Wallingford?" murmured Margaret, 
and she gave an impression of obeisance; this 
charming elegantly attired lady before the 
Western girl. Martha Wallingford coloured 
high with delight and admiration. 



138 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"Yes, I am Miss Wallingford," she replied 
and asked her caller to be seated. Margaret 
sat down facing her. The young author 
shuffled in her chair like a school girl. She was 
an odd combination of enormous egotism and 
the most painful shyness. She realised at a 
glance that she herself was provincial and piti- 
fully at a disadvantage personally before this 
elegant vision, and her personality was in real- 
ity more precious to her than her talent. 

"I can not tell you what a great pleasure 
and privilege this is for me," said Margaret, 
and her blue eyes had an expression of admir- 
ing rapture. The girl upon whom the eyes 
were fixed, blushed and giggled and tossed her 
head with a sudden show of pride. She quite 
agreed that it was a pleasure and privilege for 
Margaret to see her, the author of Hearts 
Astray, even if Margaret was herself so charm- 
ing and so provokingly well dressed. Miss 
Martha Wallingford did not hide her light of 
talent under a bushel with all her shyness, which 
was not really shyness at all but a species of 
rather sullen pride and resentment because she 
was so well aware that she could not do well 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 139 



the things which were asked of her and had not 
mastered the art of dress and self poise. 

Therefore, Martha, with the delight of her 
own achievements full upon her face, which was 
pretty, although untutored, regarded her visi- 
tor with an expression which almost made Mar- 
garet falter. It was probably the absurd 
dressing of the girl's hair which restored Mar- 
garet's confidence in her scheme. Martha 
"Wallingf ord actually wore a frizzled bang, very 
finely frizzled too, and her hair was strained 
from the nape of her neck, and it seemed im- 
possible that a young woman who knew no bet- 
ter than to arrange her hair in such fashion, 
should not be amenable to Margaret's plan. 
The plan, moreover, sounded very simple, ex- 
cept for the little complications which might 
easily arise. Margaret smiled into the pretty 
face under the fuzz of short hair. 

"My dear Miss Wallingf ord," said she, "I 
have come this morning to beg a favour. I 
hope you will not refuse me, although I am such 
an entire stranger. If, unfortunately, my 
intimate friend, Mrs. Fay-Wyman, of whom I 
assume that you of course know, even if you 



140 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



have not met her, as yon may easily have done, 
or her daughter, Miss Edith Fay-Wyman, had 
not left town last week for their country house, 
Kose-In-Flower, at Hyphen-by-the-Sea, a most 
delightful spot. Mr. Edes and I have spent 
several week ends there. I am prevented^from 
spending longer than week ends because I am 
kept at home by my two darling twin daugh- 
ters. Mrs. Fay-Wyman is a sweet woman and 
I do so wish I could have brought her here to- 
day. I am sure you would at once fall madly 
in love with her and also with her daughter, 
Miss Edith Fay-Wyman, such a sweet girl, 
and — 99 But here Margaret was unexpectedly, 
even rudely interrupted by Miss Wallingford, 
who looked at her indignantly. 

"I never fall in love with women/" stated 
that newly risen literary star abruptly, "whjj 
should I? What does it amount to?" 

"Oh, my dear," cried Margaret, "when you 
are a little older you will find that it amounts 
to very much. There is a soul sympathy, 
and—" 

"I don't think that I care much about soul 
sympathy," stated Miss Wallingford, who was 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 141 

beginning' to be angrily bewildered by her 
guest's long sentences, which so far seemed to 
have no point as far as she herself was con- 
cerned. 

Margaret started a little. Again the doubt 
seized her if she were not making a mistake, 
undertaking more than she could well carry 
through, for this shy authoress was fast devel- 
oping unexpected traits. However, Margaret, 
once she had started, was not easily turned 
back. She was as persistently clinging as a 
sweet briar. 

"Oh, my dear," she said, and her voice was 
like trickling honey, "only wait until you are 
a little older and you will find that you do care, 
care very, very much. The understanding and 
sympathy of other women will become very 
sweet to you. It is so pure and ennobling, so 
free from all material taint.' ' 

"I have seen a great many women who were 
perfect cats," stated Miss Martha Walling- 
ford. 

"Wait until you are older," said Margaret 
again and her voice seemed fairly dissolving 
into some spiritual liquid of divine sweetness. 



142 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"Wait until you are older, my dear. Yon are 
very young, so young to have accomplished a 
wonderful work which will live." 

"Oh, well," said Martha Wallingford, and 
as she spoke she fixed pitiless shrewd young 
eyes upon the face of the other woman, which 
did not show at its best, in spite of veil and the 
velvety darkness of hat-shadow. This hotel 
sitting-room was full of garish cross lights. 
"Oh, well," said Martha Wallingford, "of 
course, I don't know what may happen if I live 
to be old, as old as you." 

Margaret Edes felt like a photograph proof 
before the slightest attempt at finish had been 
made. Those keen young eyes conveyed the 
impression of convex mirrors. She restrained 
an instinctive impulse to put a hand before her 
face, she had an odd helpless sensation before 
the almost brutal, clear-visioned young thing. 
Again she shrank a little from her task, again 
her spirit reasserted itself. She moved and 
brought her face somewhat more into the 
shadow. Then she spoke again. She wisely 
dropped the subject of feminine affinities. She 
plunged at once into the object of her visit, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 143 



which directly concerned Miss Martha Walling- 
ford, and Margaret, who was as astute in her 
way as the girl, knew that she was entirely right 
in assuming that Martha Wallrngford was 
more interested in herself than anything else 
in the world. 

"My dear," she said, "I may as well tell yon 
at once why I intruded upon yon this morn- 
ing." 

"Please do," said Martha Wallingford. 

"As I said before, I deeply regret that I was 
unable to bring some well-known person, Mrs. 
Fay-Wyman, for instance, to make us ac- 
quainted in due form, but — M 

"Oh, I don't care a bit about that," said 
Martha. "What is it?" 

Margaret again started a little. She had not 
expected anything like this. The mental pic- 
ture which she had formed of Martha Walling- 
ford, the young literary star, semed to undergo 
a transformation akin to an explosion, out of 
which only one feature remained intact — the 
book, "Hearts Astray." If Miss TVallingford 
had not possessed a firm foundation in that 
volume, it is entirely possible that Margaret 



144 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



might have abandoned her enterprise. As it 
was, after a little gasp she went on. 

"I did so wish to assure you in person of my 
great admiration for your wonderful book," 
said she. Martha Wallingford made no reply. 
She had an expression of utter acquiescence 
in the admiration, also of having heard that 
same thing so many times, that she was some- 
what bored by it. She waited with questioning 
eyes upon Margaret's face. 

"And I wondered," said Margaret, "if you 
would consider it too informal, if I ventured 
to beg you to be my guest at my home in Fair- 
bridge next Thursday and remain the week- 
end, over Sunday. It would give me so much 
pleasure, and Fairbridge is a charming little 
village and there are really many interesting- 
people there whom I think you would enjoy, and 
as for them — !" Margaret gave a slight roll 
to her eyes — "they would be simply over- 
whelmed." 

"I should Me to come very mucH, thanK 
you," said Martha Wallingford. 

Margaret beamed. "Oh, my dear," she 
cried, "I can not tell you how much joy your 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 145 



prompt and warm response gives me. And — 
Margaret looked about her rather vaguely, 
"you are not alone here, of course. You have 
a maid, or perhaps, your mother — M 

"My Aunt Susan is with me," said Miss 
Wallingford, "but there is no use inviting her. 
She hates going away for a few days. She 
says it is just as much trouble packing as it 
would be to go for a month. There is no use 
even thinking of her, but I shall be delighted 
to come." 

Margaret hesitated. "May I not have the 
pleasure of being presented to your aunt?" she 
inquired. 

"Aunt Susan is out shopping," lied Miss 
Martha "Wallingford. Aunt Susan was clad in a 
cotton crepe wrapper, and Martha knew that 
she would think it quite good enough for her 
to receive anybody in, and that she could not 
convince her to the contrary. It was only re- 
cently that Martha herself had become con- 
verted from morning wrappers, and the reac- 
tion was violent. "The idea of a woman like 
this Mrs. Edes seeing Aunt Susan in that awful 
pink crepe wrapper ! 1 1 she said to herself. She 



146 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

hoped Aunt Susan was not listening, and would 
not make a forcible entry into the room. Aunt 
Susan in moments of impulse was quite capable 
of such coups. Martha glanced rather appre- 
hensively toward the door leading into the bed- 
room but it did not open. Aunt Susan was in- 
deed listening and she was rigid with indigna- 
tion, but in truth, she did not want to accompany 
her niece upon this projected visit, and she was 
afraid of being drawn into such a step should 
she present herself. Aunt Susan did dislike 
making the effort of a visit for a few days only. 
Martha had told the truth. It was very hot, 
and the elder woman was not very strong. 
Moreover, she perceived that Martha did not 
want her and there would be the complication 
of kicking against the pricks of a very deter- 
mined character, which had grown more deter- 
mined since her literary success. In fact, Aunt 
Susan stood in a slight awe of her niece since 
that success, for all her revolts which were su- 
perficial. Therefore, she remained upon her 
side of the door which she did not open until 
the visitor had departed after making definite 
arrangements concerning trains and meetings. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 147 



Then Aunt Susan entered the room with a cloud 
of pink crepe in her wake. 

"Who was that?" she demanded of Martha. 

"Mrs. Wilbur Edes," replied her niece, and 
she aped Margaret to perfection as she added, 
"and a most charming woman, most charm- 
ing. ' ' 

"What did she want you to do?" inquired 
the aunt. 

"Now, Aunt Susan," replied the niece, 
"what is the use of going over it all? You 
heard every single thing she said." 

"I did hear her ask after me," said the aunt 
unabashed, "and I heard you tell a lie about it. 
You told her I had gone out shopping and you 
knew I was right in the next room." 

"I didn't mean to have you come in and see 
a woman dressed like that one, in your wrap- 
per." 

"What is the matter with my wrapper?" 
Martha said nothing. 
"Are you going?" asked her aunt. 
"You know that too." 

"I don't know what your Pa would say," 
remarked Aunt Susan, but rather feebly, for 



148 THE BUTTEBFLY HOUSE 



she had a vague idea that it was her duty to 
accompany her niece and she was determined 
to shirk it. 

"I don't see how Pa can say much of any- 
thing since he is in South Mordan, Illinois, and 
won't know about it, unless you telegraph, until 
next week," said Martha calmly. "Now, come 
along, Aunt Susan, and get dressed. I have 
made up my mind to get that beautiful white 
silk dress we looked at yesterday. It did not 
need any alteration and I think I shall buy that 
pearl and amethyst necklace at Tiffany's. I 
know Mrs. Edes will have an evening party and 
there will be gentlemen, and what is the use of 
my making so much money out of Hearts Astray 
if I don't have a few things I want? Hurry 
and get dressed." 

"I don't see why this wrapper isn't plenty 
good enough for a few errands at two or three 
stores," said the aunt sulkily, but she yielded 
to Martha's imperative demand that she change 
her wrapper for her black satin immediately. 

Meantime Margaret on her way down town 
to the ferry was conscious of a slight consterna- 
tion at what she had done. She understood 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 149 



that in this young woman was a feminine ele- 
ment which radically differed from any which 
had come within her ken. She, however, was 
determined to go on. The next day invitations 
were issued to the Zenith Club for the following 
Friday, from four to six, and also one to din- 
ner that evening to four men and five women. 
She planned for Sunday an automobile ride; 
she was to hire the car from the Axminister 
garage, and a high tea afterward. Poor Mar- 
garet did all in her power to make her scheme 
a success, but always she had that chilling 
doubt of her power. Miss Martha Walling- 
ford had impressed her as being a young wo- 
man capable of swift and unexpected move- 
ments. She was rather afraid of her but she 
did not confess her fear to Wilbur. When he 
inquired genially what kind of a girl the 
authoress was, she replied: "Oh, charming, of 
course, but the poor child does not know how 
to do up her hair." However, when Martha 
arrived Thursday afternoon and Margaret met 
her at the station, she, at a glance, discovered 
that the poor child had discovered how to do 
up her hair. Some persons' brains work in a 



150 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 

great many directions and Martha Walling- 
ford's was one of them. Somehow or other, 
she had contrived to dispose of her tightly 
frizzed fringe, and her very pretty hair 
swept upward from a forehead which was 
both intellectual and beautiful. She was 
well dressed too. She had drawn heavily 
upon her royalty revenue. She had worked 
hard and spent a good deal during the 
short time since Margaret's call, and her brain 
had served her body well. She stepped across 
the station platform with an air. She carried 
no provincial bag — merely a dainty little affair 
mounted in gold which matched her gown — and 
she had brought a small steamer trunk. 

Margaret's heart sank more and more, but 
she conducted her visitor to her little carriage 
and ordered the man to drive home, and when 
arrived there, showed Martha her room. She 
had a faint hope that the room might .intimi- 
date this Western girl, but instead of intimida- 
tion there was exultation. She looked about 
her very coolly, but afterward, upon her return 
to East Mordan, Illinois, she bragged a good 
deal about it. The room was really very 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 151 



charming and rather costly. The furniture 
;was genuine First Empire; the walls, which 
were hung with paper covered with garlands of 
roses, were decorated with old engravings; 
there was a quantity of Dresden ware and there 
was a little tiled bathroom. Over a couch in 
the bedroom lay a kimona of white silk em- 
broidered with pink roses. Afterward Martha 
made cruel fun of her Aunt's pink crepe and 
made her buy a kimona. 

" Shall I send up my maid to assist you in 
unpacking, Miss Wallingford?" inquired Mar- 
garet, inwardly wondering how the dinner 
would be managed if the offer were accepted. 
To her relief, Martha gave her an offended 
stare. "No, thank you, Mrs. Edes," said she, 
"I never like servants, especially other peo- 
ples', mussing up my things.' ' 

When Margaret had gone, Martha looked 
about her, and her mouth was frankly wide 
open. She had never seen such exquisite 
daintiness and it daunted her, although she 
would have died rather than admit it. She 
thought of her own bedroom at home in East 
Mordan, Illinois, with its old black walnut 



152 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

chamber set and framed photographs and 
chromos, but she maintained a sort of defiant 
pride in it even to herself. In Martha Wal- 
lingford's character there was an element par- 
taking of the nature of whalebone, yielding, 
but practically unbreakable, and sometimes 
wholly unyielding. Martha proceeded to ar- 
ray herself for dinner. She had not a doubt 
that it would be a grand affair. She therefore 
did not hesitate about the white silk, which was 
a robe of such splendour that it might not have 
disgraced a court. It showed a great deal 
of her thin, yet pretty girlish neck, and it had 
a very long train. She had a gold fillet 
studded with diamonds for her hair — that hair 
which was now dressed according to the very 
latest mode — a mode which was startling, yet 
becoming, and she clasped around her throat 
the Tiffany necklace, and as a crowning touch, 
put on long white gloves. When she appeared 
upon the verandah where Margaret sat dressed 
in a pretty lingerie gown with Wilbur in a 
light grey business suit, the silence could be 
heard. Then there was one double gasp of ad- 
miration from Maida and Adelaide in their 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 153 



white frocks and blue ribbons. They looked at 
the visitor with positive adoration, but she 
flushed hotly. She was a very quick-witted 
girl. Margaret recovered herself, presented 
Wilbur, and shortly, they went in to dinner, but 
it was a ghastly meal. Martha Wallingford in 
her unsuitable splendour was frankly, as she 
put it afterward, "hopping mad," and Wilbur 
was unhappy and Margaret aghast, although 
apparently quite cool. There was not a guest 
besides Martha. The dinner was simple. Aft- 
erward it seemed too farcical to ask a guest at- 
tired like a young princess to go out on the 
verandah and lounge in a wicker chair, while 
Wilbur smoked. Then Annie Eustace ap- 
peared and Margaret was grateful. "Dear 
Annie," she said, after she had introduced the 
two girls 2 "I am so glad you came over. Come 
in." 

"It is pleasanter on the verandah, isn't it?" 
began Annie, then she caught Margaret's ex- 
pressive glance at the magnificent white silk. 
They all sat stiffly in Margaret's pretty draw- 
ing-room. Martha said she didn't play bridge 
and upon Annie's timid suggestion of pinocle, 



154 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

said she had never heard of it. Wilbur dared 
not smoke. All that wretched evening they 
sat there. The situation was too much for 
Margaret, that past mistress of situations, and 
her husband was conscious of a sensation ap- 
proaching terror and also wrath whenever he 
glanced at the figure in sumptuous white, the 
figure expressing sulkiness in every feature 
and motion. Margaret was unmistakably 
sulky as the evening wore on and nobody came 
except this other girl of whom she took no no- 
tice at all. She saw that she was pretty, 
her hair badly arranged and she was ill- 
dressed, and that was enough for her. She felt 
it to be an insult that these people had invited 
her and asked nobody to meet her, Martha Wal- 
lingford, whose name was in all the papers, at- 
tired in this wonderful white gown. When 
Annie Eustace arose to go, she arose too with 
a peremptory motion. 

"I rather guess I will go to bed," said Mar- 
tha Wallingford. 

"You must be weary," said Margaret. 

"I am not tired," said Martha Wallingford, 
"but it seems to me as dull here as in South 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 155 



Mordan, Illinois. I might as well go to bed and 
to sleep as sit here any longer. " 

When Margaret had returned from the guest 
room, her husband looked at her almost in a be- 
wildered fashion. Margaret sank wearily into 
a chair. " Isn't she impossible ?" she whis- 
pered. 

"Did she think there was a dinner party ?" 
Wilbur inquired perplexedly. 

"I don't know. It was ghastly. I did not 
for a moment suppose she would dress for a 
party, unless I told her, and it is Emma's night 
off and I could not ask people with only Clara 
to cook and wait." 

Wilbur patted his wife's shoulder comfort- 
ingly. "Never mind, dear," he said, "when 
she gets her chance to do her to-morrow's stunt 
at your club, she will be all right." 

Margaret shivered a little. She had dared 
say nothing to Martha about that "stunt." 
Was it possible that she was making a horrible 
mistake? 

The next day, Martha was still sulky but she 
did not, as Margaret feared, announce her in- 
tention of returning at once to New York. 



156 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

Margaret said quite casually that she had in- 
vited a few of the brightest and most interest- 
ing people in Fairbridge to meet her that aft- 
ernoon and Martha became curious, although 
still resentful, and made no motion to leave. 
She, however, resolved to make no further mis- 
takes as to costume, and just as the first tide of 
the Zenith Club broke over Margaret's thresh- 
old, she appeared clad in one of her South 
Mordan, Illinois, gowns. It was one which she 
had tucked into her trunk in view of foul 
weather. It was a hideous thing made from 
two old gowns. It had a garish blue tunic 
reaching well below the hips and a black skirt 
bordered with blue. Martha had had it made 
herself from a pattern after long study of the 
fashion plates in a Sunday newspaper and the 
result, although startling, still half convinced 
her. It was only after she had seen all the 
members of the Zenith Club seated and had 
gazed at their costumes, that she realised 
that she had made a worse mistake than that of 
the night before. To begin with, the day was 
very warm and her gown heavy and clumsy* 
The other ladies were arrayed in lovely ling- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 157 



eries or light silks and laces. The Zenith Club 
was exceedingly well dressed on that day. 
•Martha sat in her place beside her hostess and 
her face looked like a sulky child's. Her eye- 
lids were swollen, her pouting lips dropped 
at the corners. She stiffened her chin until it 
became double. Margaret was inwardly per- 
turbed but she concealed it. The programme 
went on with the inevitable singing by Miss 
MacDonald and Mrs. Wells, the playing by Mrs. 
Jack Evarts, the recitation by Sally Anderson. 
Margaret had not ventured to omit those fea- 
tures. Then, Mrs. Sturtevant read in a trem- 
bling voice a paper on Emerson. Then Mar- 
garet sprang her mines. She rose and sur- 
veyed her audience with smiling impressive- 
ness. "Ladies," she said, and there was an 
immediate hush, "Ladies, I have the pleasure, 
the exceeding pleasure of presenting you to my 
guest, Miss Martha Wallingford, the author of 
Hearts Astray. She will now speak briefly 
to you upon her motive in writing and her 
method of work." There was a soft clapping 
of hands. Margaret sat down. She was quite 
pale. Annie Eustace regarded her wonder- 



158 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



ingly. What had happened to her dear Mar- 
garet? 

The people waited. Everybody stared at 
Miss Martha Wallingford who had written that 
great seller, Hearts Astray. Martha Wal- 
lingford sat perfectly still. Her eyes were so 
downcast that they gave the appearance of be- 
ing closed. Her pretty face looked red and 
swollen. Everybody waited. She sat abso- 
lutely still and made no sign except that of her 
obstinate face of negation. Margaret bent 
over her and whispered. Martha did not even 
do her the grace of a shake of the head. 

Everybody waited again. Martha Walling- 
ford sat so still that she gave the impression 
of a doll made without speaking apparatus. 
It did not seem as if she could even wink. 
Then Alice Mendon, who disliked Margaret 
Edes and had a shrewd conjecture as to the 
state of affairs, but who was broad in her views, 
pitied Margaret. She arose with considerable 
motion and spoke to Daisy Shaw at her right, 
and broke the ghastly silence, and immediately 
everything was in motion and refreshments 
were being passed, but Martha Wallingford, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 159 

who had written Hearts Astray, was not 
there to partake of them. She was in her 
room, huddled in a chair upholstered with 
cream silk strewn with roses; and she was in 
one of the paroxysms of silent rage which be- 
longed to her really strong, although undis- 
ciplined nature, and which was certainly in this 
case justified to some degree. 

"It was an outrage," she said to herself. 
She saw through it all now. She had refused 
to speak or to read before all those women's 
clubs and now this woman had trapped her, 
that was the word for it, trapped her. 

As she sat there, her sullenly staring angry 
eyes saw in large letters at the head of a col- 
umn in a morning paper on the table beside her, 
*' 'The Poor Lady, 9 the greatest) anonymous 
novel of the year." 

Then she fell again to thinking of her wrongs 
and planning how she should wreak vengeance 
upon Margaret Edes. 



CHAPTER yi 

Martha Wallingfoed was a young person of 
direct methods. She scorned subterfuges. 
Another of her age and sex might have gone to 
bed with a headache, not she. She sat abso- 
lutely still beside her window, quite in full view 
of the departing members of the Zenith Club, 
had they taken the trouble to glance in that di- 
rection, and some undoubtedly did, and she 
remained there; presently she heard her 
hostess's tiny rap on the door. Martha did not 
answer, but after a repeated rap and wait, Mar- 
garet chose to assume that she did, and entered. 
Margaret knelt in a soft flop of scented lingerie 
beside the indignant young thing. She ex- 
plained, she apologised, she begged, she im- 
plored Martha to put on that simply ravishing 
gown which she had worn the evening before; 
she expatiated at length upon the charms of the 
people whom she had invited to dinner, but 
Martha spoke not at all until she was quite 
ready. Then she said explosively, "I won't." 

160 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 161 



She was silent after that. Margaret recog- 
nised the futility of further entreaties. She 
went down stairs and confided in Wilbur. "I 
never saw such an utterly impossible girl," she 
said; " there she sits and won't get dressed and 
come down to dinner.' 9 

"She is a freak, must be, most of these writer 
people are freaks," said Wilbur sympatheti- 
cally. "Poor old girl, and I suppose you have 
got up a nice dinner too." 

"A perfectly charming dinner and invited 
people to meet her." 

"How did she do her stunt this afternoon?" 

Margaret flushed. "None too well," she re- 
plied. 

"Oh, well, dear, I don't see how you are to 
blame." 

"I can say that Miss Wallingford is not well, 
I suppose," said Margaret, and that was what 
she did say, but with disastrous results. 

Margaret, ravishing in white lace, sprinkled 
with little gold butterflies, had taken her place 
at the head of her table. Emma was serving 
the first course and she was making her little 
speech concerning the unfortunate indisposi- 



162 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



tion of her guest of honour when she was sud- 
denly interrupted by that guest herself, an im- 
age of sulky wrath, clad in the blue and black 
costume pertaining to South Mordan, Illinois. 

a Iam perfectly well. She is telling an awful 
whopper,'' proclaimed this amazing girl. "I 
won't dress up and come to dinner because I 
won't. She trapped me into a woman's club 
this afternoon and tried to get me to make a 
speech without even telling me what she meant 
to do and now I won't do anything." 

With that Miss Wallingford disappeared and 
unmistakable stamps were heard upon the 
stairs. One woman giggled convulsively; an- 
other took a glass of water and choked. A man 
laughed honestly. Wilbur was quite pale. 
Margaret was imperturbable. Karl von Rosen, 
who was one of the guests and who sat behind 
Annie Eustace, looked at Margaret with won- 
der. "Was this the way of women?" he 
thought. He did not doubt for one minute that 
the Western girl had spoken the truth. It had 
been brutal and homely, but it had been the 
truth. Little Annie Eustace, who had been al- 
lowed to come to a dinner party for the first 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 163 



time in her life and who looked quite charming 
in an old, much mended, but very fine India 
muslin and her grandmother's corals, did not, 
on the contrary, believe one word of Miss Wal- 
lingford's. 

Her sympathy was all with her Margaret. 
It was a horrible situation and her dear Mar- 
garet was the victim of her own hospitality. 
She looked across the table at Alice Mendon 
for another sympathiser, but Alice was talk- 
ing busily to the man at her right about a new 
book. She had apparently not paid much at- 
tention. Annie wondered how it could have 
escaped her. That horrid girl had spoken so 
loudly. She looked up at Von Rosen. "I am 
so sorry for poor Margaret/' she whispered. 
Von Rosen looked down at her very gently. 
This little girl's belief in her friend was like a 
sacred lily, not to be touched or soiled. 

"Yes," he said and Annie smiled up at him 
comfortably. Von Rosen was glad she sat be- 
side him. He thought her very lovely, and 
there was a subtle suggestion of something be- 
sides loveliness. He thought that daintily 
mended India muslin exquisite, and also the 



164 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



carved corals, — bracelets on the slender wrists, 
a necklace — resting like a spray of flowers on 
the girlish neck, a comb in the soft hair which 
Annie had arranged becomingly and covered 
from her aunt's sight with a lace scarf. She 
felt deceitful about her hair, but how could she 
help it? 

The dinner was less ghastly than could have 
been expected after the revelation of the guest 
of honour and the blank consternation of the 
host, who made no attempt to conceal his state 
of mind. Poor Wilbur had no society tricks. 
Alice Mendon, who was quite cognizant of the 
whole matter, but was broad enough to leap 
to the aid of another woman, did much. 
She had quite a talent for witty stories and a 
goodly fund of them. The dinner went off very 
well, while Martha Wallingford ate hers from 
a dinner tray in her room and felt that every 
morsel was sweetened with righteous revenge. 

The next morning she left for New York and 
Margaret did not attempt to detain her al- 
though she had a lunch party planned besides 
the Sunday festivities. Margaret had had a 
scene with Wilbur after the departure of the 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 165 



guests the previous evening. For the first 
time in her experience, the devoted husband 
had turned upon his goddess. He had asked, 
"Was it true, what that girl said?" and Mar- 
garet had laughed up at him bewitchingly to no 
effect. Wilbur's face was very stern. 

"My dear," said Margaret, "I knew per- 
fectly well that if I actually asked her to speak 
or read, she would have refused." 

"You have done an unpardonable thing," 
said the man. "You have betrayed your own 
sense of honour, your hospitality toward the 
guest under your roof." 

Margaret laughed as she took an ornament 
from her yellow head but the laugh was de- 
fiant and forced. In her heart she bitterly re- 
sented her husband's attitude and more bitterly 
resented the attitude of respect into which it 
forced her. "It is the very last time I ask a 
Western authoress to accept my hospitality," 
said she. 

"I hope so," said Wilbur gravely. 

That night Karl von Eosen walked home 
with Annie Eustace. She had come quite un- 
attended, as was the wont of Fairbridge ladies. 



166 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



That long peaceful Main Street lined with the 
homes of good people always seemed a safe 
thoroughfare. Annie was even a little sur- 
prised when Von Rosen presented himself and 
said, " I will walk home with you, Miss Eustace, 
with your permission." 

"But I live a quarter of a mile past your 
house," said Annie. 

Von Rosen laughed. "A quarter of a mile 
will not injure me," he said. 

"It will really be a half mile," said Annie. 
She wanted very much that the young man 
should walk home with her, but she was very 
much afraid of making trouble. She was re- 
lieved when he only laughed again and said 
something about the beauty of the night. It 
was really a wonderful night and even the eyes 
of youth, inhabiting it with fairy dreams, were 
not essential to perceive it. 

"What flower scent is that?" asked Von 
Rosen. 

"I think," replied Annie, "that it is wild 
honeysuckle," and her voice trembled slightly. 
The perfumed night and the strange presence 
beside her went to the child's head a bit. The 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 167 



two walked along under the trees, which cast 
etching-like shadows in the broad moonlight, 
and neither talked much. There was scarcely 
a lighted window in any of the houses and they 
had a delicious sense of isolation, — the girl 
and the man awake in a sleeping world. Annie 
made no further allusion to Miss Wallingford. 
She had for almost the first time in her life a 
little selfish feeling that she did not wish to jar 
a perfect moment even with the contemplation 
of a friend's troubles. She was very happy 
walking beside Von Eosen, holding up her 
flimsy embroidered skirts carefully lest they 
come in contact with dewy grass. She had 
been admonished by her grandmother and her 
aunts so to do and reminded that the frail fab- 
ric would not endure much washing however 
skilful. Between the shadows, her lovely face 
showed like a white flower as Von Rosen looked 
down upon it. He wondered more and more 
that he had never noticed this exquisite young 
creature before. He did not yet dream of love 
in connection with her, but he was conscious of 
a passion of surprised admiration and protect- 
iveness. 



168 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



"How is it that I have never seen yon when 
I call on your Aunt Harriet?" he asked when 
he parted with her at her own gate, a stately 
wrought iron affair in a tall hedge of close 
trimmed lilac. 

"I am generally therg, I think," replied 
Annie, but she was also conscious of a little 
surprise that she had not paid more attention 
when this young man, who looked at her so 
kindly, called. Then came one of her sudden 
laughs. 

"What is it?" asked Von Rosen. 

"Oh, nothing, except that the cat is usually 
there too," replied Annie. Von Rosen looked 
back boyishly. 

"Be sure I shall see you next time and hang 
the cat," he said. 

When Annie was in her room unclasp- 
ing her corals, she considered how very 
much mortified and troubled her friend, 
Margaret Edes, must feel. She recalled 
how hideous it had all been — that appear- 
ance of the Western girl in the dining-room 
door-way, her rude ways, her flushed angry 
face. Annie did not dream of blaming Mar- 



.THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 169 



garet. She was almost a fanatic as far as 
loyalty to her friends was concerned. She 
loved Margaret and she had only a feeling of 
cold dislike and disapprobation toward Miss 
Wallingford who had hurt Margaret. As for 
that charge of "trapping," she paid no heed to 
it whatever. She made up her mind to go and 
see Margaret the very next day and tell her a 
secret, a very great secret, which she was sure 
would comfort her and make ample amends to 
her for all her distress of the night before. 
Little Annie Eustace was so very innocent and 
ignorant of the ways of the world that had her 
nearest and dearest been able to look into her 
heart of hearts, they might have been appalled, 
incredulous and reverent, according to their 
natures. For instance, this very good, simple 
young girl who had been born with the light of 
genius always assumed that her friends would 
be as delighted at any good fortune of hers as 
at their own. She fairly fed upon her admira- 
tion of Alice Mendon that evening when she 
had stepped so nobly and tactfully into the 
rather frightful social breach and saved, if not 
wholly, the situation. 



170 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

" Alice was such a dear," she thought, and 
the thought made her face fairly angelic. 
Then she recalled how lovely Alice had looked, 
and her own mobile face took on unconsciously 
Alice's expression. Standing before her look- 
ing-glass brushing out her hair, she saw re- 
flected, not her own beautiful face between the 
lustrous folds, but Alice's. Then she recalled 
with pride Margaret's imperturbability under 
such a trial. "Nobody but Margaret could 
have carried off such an insult under her own 
roof too," she thought. 

After she was in bed and her lamp blown out 
and the white moon-beams were entering her 
open windows like angels, she, after saying her 
prayers, thought of the three, Margaret, Alice, 
and Karl von Rosen. Then suddenly a warm 
thrill passed over her long slender body but it 
seemed to have its starting point in her soul. 
She saw very distinctly the young man's dark 
handsome face, but she thought, "How absurd 
of me, to see him so distinctly, as distinctly as I 
see Margaret and Alice, when I love them so 
much, and I scarcely know Mr. von Rosen." 
Being brought up by one's imperious grand- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 171 



mother and two imperious aunts and being one- 
self naturally of an obedient disposition and of 
a slowly maturing temperament, tends to 
lengthen the long childhood of a girl. Annie 
was almost inconceivably a child, much more 
of a child than Maida or Adelaide Edes. They 
had been allowed to grow like weeds as far as 
their imagination was concerned, and she had 
been religiously pruned. 

The next afternoon she put on her white 
barred muslin and obtained her Aunt Harriet's 
permission to spend an hour or two with Mar- 
garet if she would work assiduously on her 
daisy centre piece, and stepped like a white 
dove across the shady village street. Annie, 
unless she remembered to do otherwise, was 
prone to toe in slightly with her slender feet. 
She was also prone to allow the tail of her white 
gown to trail. She gathered it up only when 
her Aunt called after her. She found Mar- 
garet lying indolently in the hammock which 
was strung across the wide shaded verandah. 
She was quite alone. Annie had seen with re- 
lief Miss Martha Wallingford being driven to 
the station that morning and the express fol- 



172 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



lowing with her little trunk. Margaret greeted 
Annie a bit stiffly but the girl did not notice it. 
She was so full of her ignorant little plan to 
solace her friend with her own joy. Poor 
Annie did not understand that it requires a na- 
ture seldom met upon this earth, to be solaced, 
under disappointment and failure, by another's 
joy. Annie had made up her mind to say very 
little to Margaret about what had happened the 
evening before. Only at first, she remarked 
upon the beauty of the dinner, then she said 
quite casually, "Dear Margaret, we were all so 
sorry for poor Miss Wallingford's strange con- 
duct/ ' 

"It really did not matter in the least," re- 
plied Margaret coldly, "I shall never invite 
her again.' J 

"I am sure nobody can blame you," said 
Annie warmly. "I don't want to say harsh 
things, you know that, Margaret, but that poor 
girl, in spite of her great talent, cannot have 
had the advantage of good home-training." 

1 ' Oh, she is Western, ' ' said Margaret. ' ' How 
very warm it is to-day. ' ' 

"Very, but there is quite a breeze here." 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 173 



"A hot breeze/' said Margaret wearily. 
"How I wish we could afford a house at the 
seashore or the mountains. The hot weather 
does get on my nerves." 

A great light of joy came into Annie's eyes. 
"Oh, Margaret dear," she said, "I can't do it 
yet but it does look as if some time before long 
perhaps, I may be able myself to have a house 
at the seashore. I think Sudbury beach would 
be lovely. It is always cool there, and then you 
can come and stay with me whenever you like 
during the hot weather. I will have a room 
fitted up for you in your favourite white and 
gold and it shall be called Margaret's room and 
you can always come, when you wish." 

Margaret looked at the other girl with a slow 
surprise. "I do not understand," said she. 

"Of course, you don't. You know we have 
only had enough to live here as we have done," 
said Annie with really childish glee, "but oh, 
Margaret, you will be so glad. I have not told 
you before but now I must for I know it will 
make you so happy, and I know I can trust you 
never to betray me, for it is a great secret, a 
very great secret, and it must not be known by 



174 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



other people at present. I don't know just 
when it can be known, perhaps never, certainly: 
not now." 

Margaret looked at her with indifferent in- 
terrogation. Annie did not realise how indif- 
ferent. A flood-tide of kindly joyful emotion 
does not pay much attention to its banks. 
Annie continued. She looked sweetly excited; 
her voice rose high above its usual pitch. 
"You understand, Margaret dear, how it is," 
she said. "You see I am quite unknown, that 
is, my name is quite unknown, and it would 
really hinder the success of a book." 

Margaret surveyed her with awakening in- 
terest. "A book?" said she. 

"Yes, a book! Oh, Margaret, I know it will 
be hard for you to believe, but you know I am 
very truthful. I — I wrote the book they are 
talking about so much now. You know what I 
mean?" 

"Not the—?" 

"Yes, The Poor Lady, — the anonymous novel 
which people are talking so much about and 
which sold better than any other book last 
week. I wrote it. I really did, Margaret." 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 175 



"You wrote it!" 

Annie continued almost wildly. "Yes, I did, 
I did!" she cried, "and yon are the only soul 
that knows except the publishers. They said 
they were much struck with the book but ad- 
vised anonymous publication, my name was so 
utterly unknown." 

"You wrote The 'Poor Lady f 99 said Mar- 
garet, Her eyes glittered, and her lips tight- 
ened. Envy possessed her, but Annie Eustace 
did not recognise envy when she saw it. 

Annie went on in her sweet ringing voice, al- 
most producing the effect of a song. She was 
so happy, and so pleased to think that she was 
making her friend happy. 

"Yes,' ' she said, "I wrote it. I wrote The 
Poor Lady. V 

"If," said Margaret, "you speak quite so 
loud, you will be heard by others." 

Annie lowered her voice immediately with a 
startled look. "Oh," she whispered. "I 
would not have anybody hear me for any- 
thing." 

"How did you manage?" asked Margaret. 
Annie laughed happily. "I fear I have been 



176 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

a little deceitful," she said, "but I am sure they 
"will forgive me when they know. I keep a 
journal; I have always kept one since I was a 
child. Aunt Harriet wished me to do so. And 
the journal was very stupid. So little unusual 
happens here in Fairbridge, and I have always 
been rather loath to write very much about my 
innermost feelings or very much about my 
friends in my journal because of course one can 
never tell what will happen. It has never 
seemed to me quite delicate — to keep a very full 
journal, and so there was in reality very little 
to write. ' ' Annie burst into a peal of laughter. 
"It just goes this way, the journal/ 9 she said. 
"To-day is pleasant and warm. This morning 
I helped Hannah preserve cherries. In the 
afternoon I went over to Margaret's and sat 
with her on the verandah, embroidered two dai- 
sies and three leaves with stems on my centre 
piece, came home, had supper, sat in the twi- 
light with Grandmother, Aunt Harriet and 
Aunt Susan. "Went upstairs, put on my wrap- 
per and read until it was time to go to bed. 
Went to bed. Now that took very little time 
and was not interesting and so, after I went up- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 177 



stairs, I wrote my entry in the journal in about 
five minutes and then I wrote The Poor Lady. 
Of course, when I began it, I was not at all sure 
that it would amount to anything. I was not 
sure that any publisher would look at it. Some- 
times I felt as if I were doing a very foolish 
thing: spending time and perhaps deceiving 
Grandmother and my aunts very wickedly, 
though I was quite certain that if the book 
should by any chance succeed, they would not 
think it wrong. 

"Grandmother is very fond of books and so 
is Aunt Harriet, and I have often heard them 
say they wished I had been a boy in order that 
I might do something for the Eustace name. 
You know there have been so many distin- 
guished professional men in the Eustace fam- 
ily and they of course did not for one minute 
think a girl like me could do anything and I did 
not really think so myself. Sometimes I won- 
der how I had the courage to keep on writing 
when I was so uncertain but it was exactly as 
if somebody were driving me. When I had the 
book finished, I was so afraid it ought to be type- 
written, but I could not manage that. At least 



178 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

I thought I could not, but after awhile I did, 
and in a way that nobody suspected, Aunt 
Harriet sent me to New York. You know I 
am not often allowed to go alone but it was 
when Grandmother had the grippe and Aunt 
Susan the rheumatism and Aunt Harriet had 
a number of errands and so I went on the 
Twenty-third Street ferry, and did not go far 
from Twenty-third Street and I took my book 
in my handbag and carried it into Larkins and 
White's and I saw Mr. Larkins in his office and 
he was very kind and polite, although I think 
now he was laughing a little to himself at the 
idea of my writing a book, but he said to leave 
the MSS. and he would let me hear. And I left 
it and, oh, Margaret, I heard within a week, and 
he said such lovely things about it. You know I 
always go to the post-office, so there was no 
chance of anybody's finding it out that way. 
And then the proof began to come and I was at 
my wits' end to conceal that, but I did. And 
then the book was published, and, Margaret, 
you know the rest. Nobody dreams who wrote 
it, and I have had a statement and oh, my dear, 
next November I am to have a check." (Annie 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 179 



leaned over and whispered in Margaret's ear.) 
"Only think/ 9 she said with a burst of rapture. 

Margaret was quite pale. She sat looking 
straight before her with a strange expression. 
She was tasting in the very depths of her soul 
a bitterness which was more biting than any 
bitter herb which ever grew on earth. It was 
a bitterness, which, thank God, is unknown to 
many; the bitterness of the envy of an incapa- 
ble, but self-seeking nature, of one with the 
burning ambition of genius but destitute of the 
divine fire. To such come unholy torture, 
which is unspeakable at the knowledge of an- 
other's success. Margaret Edes was inwardly 
writhing. To think that Annie Eustace, little 
Annie Eustace, who had worshipped at her own 
shrine, whom she had regarded with a lazy, 
scarcely concealed contempt, for her incredible 
lack of wordly knowledge, her provincialism, 
her ill-fitting attire, should have achieved a tri- 
umph which she herself could never achieve. 
A cold hatred of the girl swept over the woman. 
She forced her lips into a smile, but her eyes 
were cruel. 

"How very interesting, my dear," she said. 



180 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

Poor Annie started. She was acute, for 
all her innocent trust in another's goodness, 
and the tone of her friend's voice, the look in 
her eyes chilled her. And yet she did not 
know what they signified. She went on beg- 
ging for sympathy and rejoicing with her joy 
as a child might beg for a sweet. " Isn't it 
perfectly lovely, Margaret dear?" she said. 

"It is most interesting, my dear child," re- 
plied Margaret. 

Annie went on eagerly with the details of her 
triumph, the book sales which increased every 
week, the revises, the letters from her publish- 
ers, and Margaret listened smiling in spite of 
her torture, but she never said more than 
"How interesting." 

At last Annie went home and could not help 
feeling disappointed, although she could not 
fathom the significance of Margaret's recep- 
tion of her astonishing news. Annie only wor- 
ried because she feared lest her happiness had 
not cheered her friend as much as she had an- 
ticipated. 

"Poor Margaret, she must feel so very bad 
that nothing can reconcile her to such a be- 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 181 



trayal of her hospitality," she reflected as she 
flitted across the street. There was nobody in 
evidence at her house at window or on the wide 
verandah. Annie looked at her watch tucked 
in her girdle, hung around her neck by a thin 
gold chain which had belonged to her mother. 
It yet wanted a full hour of supper time. She 
had time to call on Alice Mendon and go to the 
post-office. Alice lived on the way to the post- 
office, in a beautiful old colonial house. Annie 
ran along the shady sidewalk and soon had a 
glimpse of Alice 's pink draperies on her great 
front porch. Annie ran down the deep front 
yard between the tall box bushes, beyond which 
bloomed in a riot of colour and perfume roses 
and lilies and spraying heliotrope and pinks 
and the rest of their floral tribe all returned 
to their dance of summer. Alice's impos- 
ing colonial porch was guarded on either side 
of the superb circling steps by a stone lion from 
over seas. On the porch was a little table and 
several chairs. Alice sat in one reading. She 
was radiant in her pink muslin. Alice seldom 
wore white. She was quite sensible as to the 
best combinations of herself with colours al- 



182 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

though she had, properly speaking, no vanity. 
She arranged herself to the best advantage as 
she arranged a flower in a vase. On the heav- 
ily carved mahogany table beside her was a 
blue and white India bowl filled with white 
roses and heliotrope and lemon verbena. 
Annie inhaled the bouquet of perfume happily 
as she came up the steps with Alice smiling a 
welcome at her. Annie had worshipped more 
fervently at Margaret Edes' shrine than at 
Alice's and yet she had a feeling of fuller con- 
fidence in Alice. She was about to tell Alice 
about her book, not because Alice needed the 
comfort of her joy but because she herself, al- 
though unknowingly, needed Alice's ready sym- 
pathy of which she had no doubt. Her inter- 
view with Margaret had left the child hurt and 
bewildered and now she came to Alice. Alice 
did not rise and kiss her. Alice seldom kissed 
anybody but she radiated kindly welcome. 

"Sit down, little Annie," she said, "I am 
glad you have come. My aunt and cousin 
have gone to New York and I have been alone 
all day. We would have tea and cake but I 
know the hour of your Medes and Persians' 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 183. 

supper approaches instead of my later din- 
ner." 

"Yes," said Annie, sitting down, "and if I 
were to take tea and cake now, Alice, I could 
eat nothing and grandmother and my aunts are 
very particular about my clearing my plate." 

Alice laughed, but she looked rather solici- 
tously at the girl. "I know, ' 9 she said, then she 
hesitated. She pitied little Annie Eustace and 
considered her rather a victim of loving but 
mistaken tyranny. "I wish," she said, "that 
you would stay and dine with me to-night." 

Annie fairly gasped. "They expect me at 
home," she replied. 

"I know, and I suppose if I were to send over 
and tell them you would dine with me, it would 
not answer." 

Annie looked frightened. "I fear not, Alice. 
You see they would have had no time to think 
it over and decide." 

"Yes, I suppose so." 

"I have time to make you a little call and 
stop at the post-office for the last mail and get 
home just in time for supper." 

"Oh, well, you must come and dine with me 



184 THE BUTTEBFLY HOUSE 



a week from to-day, and I will have a little din- 
ner-party, 9 9 said Alice. "I will invite some 
nice people. We will have Mr. von Eosen for 
one." 

Annie suddenly flushed crimson. It oc- 
curred to her that Mr. von Eosen might walk 
home with her as he had done from Margaret's, 
and a longing and terror at once possessed her, 

Alice wondered at the blush. 

"I was so sorry for poor Margaret last 
night," Annie said with an abrupt change of 
subject. 

"Yes," said Alice. 

"That poor Western girl, talented as she is, 
must have been oddly brought up to be so very 
rude to her hostess," said Annie. 

"I dare say Western girls are brought up 
differently," said Alice. 

Annie was so intent with what she had to tell 
Alice that she did not realise the extreme eva- 
siveness of the other's manner. 

"Alice," she said. 

"Well, little Annie Eustace?" 

Annie began, blushed, then hesitated. 

"I am going to tell you something. I have 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 185 



told Margaret. I have just told her this aft- 
ernoon. I thought it might please her and 
comfort her after that terrible scene at her din- 
ner last night, but nobody else knows except 
the publishers.' ' 

"What is it?" asked Alice, regarding Annie 
with a little smile. 

"Nothing, only I wrote The Poor Lady/' 
said Annie. 

"My dear Annie, I knew it all the time," 
said Alice. 

Annie stared at her. "How?" 

"Well, you did not know it, but you did re- 
peat in that book verbatim, ad literatim, a sen- 
tence, a very striking one, which occurred in 
one of your papers which you wrote for the 
Zenith Club. I noticed that sentence at the 
time. It was this: 'A rose has enough beauty 
and fragrance to enable it to give very freely 
and yet itself remain a rose. It is the case with 
many endowed natures but that is a fact which 
is not always understood/ My dear Annie, 
I knew that you wrote the book, for that 
identical sentence occurs in The Poor Lady 
on page one hundred forty-two. You see I 



186 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

have fully considered the matter to rememher 
the exact page. I knew the minute I read that 
sentence that my little Annie Eustace had writ- 
ten that successful anonymous book, and I was 
the more certain because I had always had my 
own opinion as to little Annie's literary ability 
based upon those same Zenith Club papers. 
You will remember that I have often told you 
that you should not waste your time writing 
club papers when you could do work like that." 

Annie looked alarmed. "Oh, Alice,' ' she 
said, "do you think anybody else has remem- 
bered that sentence ?" 

"My dear child, I am quite sure that not a 
blessed woman in that club has remembered 
that sentence," said Alice. 

"I had entirely forgotten." 

"Of course, you had." 

"It would be very unfortunate if it were re- 
membered, because the publishers are so anx- 
ious that my name should not be known. You 
see, nobody ever heard of me and my name 
would hurt the sales and the poor publishers 
have worked so hard over the advertising, it 
would be dreadful to have the sales fall off. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 187 

You really don't think anybody does -remem- 
ber?" 

"My dear," said Alice with Her entirely 
good-natured, even amused and tolerant air of 
cynicism, "the women of the Zenith Club re- 
member their own papers. You need not have 
the slightest fear. But Annie, you wonderful 
little girl, I am so glad you have come to me 
with this. I have been waiting for you to tell 
me, for I was impatient to tell you how de- 
lighted I am. You blessed child, I never was 
more glad at anything in my whole life. I 
am as proud as proud can be. I feel as if I 
had written that book myself, and better than 
written it myself. I have had none of the 
bother of the work and my friend had it and 
my friend has the fame and the glory and she 
goes around among us with her little halo hid- 
den out of sight of everybody, except myself." 

"Margaret knows." 

Alice stiffened a little. "That is recent," 
she said, "and I have known all the time." 

"Margaret could not have remembered that 
sentence, I am sure," Annie said thought- 
fully. "Poor Margaret, she was so upset by 



188 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



what happened last night that I am afraid the 
news did not cheer her up as much as I thought 
it would/' 

"Well, you dear little sou!,"" said Alice, "I 
am simply revelling in happiness and pride 
because of it, you may be sure of that" 

"But you have not had such an awful blow 
as poor Margaret had," said Annie, Then she 
brightened. "Oh Alice," she cried, "I wanted 
somebody who loved me to be glad." 

"You have not told your grandmother and 
aunts yet?" 

"I have not dared," replied Annie in a 
shamed fashion. "I know I deceived them and 
I think perhaps grandmother might find it hard 
not to tell. She is so old you know, and she 
does tell a great deal without meaning and 
Aunt Susan likes to tell news. I have not 
dared, Alice. The publishers have been so 
very insistent that nobody should know, but I 
had to tell you and Margaret." 

"It made no difference anyway about me," 
said Alice, "since I already knew." 

"Margaret can be trusted too, I am sure," 
Annie said quickly. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 189 



"Of course." 

Annie looked at her watch. "I must go," 
she said, "or I shall be late. Isn't it really 
wonderful that I should write a successful 
book, Alice?" 

"You are rather wonderful, my dear," said 
Alice. Then she rose and put her arms around 
the slender white-clad figure and held her close, 
and gave her one of her infrequent kisses. 
"You precious little thing," she said, "the book 
is wonderful, but my Annie is more wonderful 
because she can be told so and never get the 
fact into her head. Here is your work, dear." 

An expression of dismay came over Annie's 
face. "Oh, dear," she said, "I have only em- 
broidered half a daisy and what will Aunt Har- 
riet say?" 

"You have embroidered a whole garden as 
nobody else can, if people only knew it," said 
Alice. 

"But Alice," said Annie ruefully, "my em- 
broidery is really awful and I don't like to do 
it and the linen is so grimy that I am ashamed. 
Oh, dear, I shall have to face Aunt Harriet with 
that half daisy!" 



190 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Alice laughed. "She can't kill you." 
"No, but I don't like to have her so disap- 
pointed." 

Alice kissed Annie again before she went, 
and watched the slight figure flitting down be- 
tween the box-rows, with a little frown of per- 
plexity. She wished that Annie had not told 
Margaret Edes about the book and yet she did 
not know why she wished so. She was very far 
from expecting the results. Alice was too no- 
ble herself to entertain suspicions of the igno- 
bility of others. Certainty she was obliged to 
confront, as she had confronted the affair of 
the night before. It was, of course, the cer- 
tainty that Margaret had been guilty of a dis- 
graceful and treacherous deed which made her 
uneasy in a vague fashion now and yet she did 
not for one second dream of what was to oc- 
cur at the next meeting of the Zenith Club. 

That was at Mrs. Sturtevant's and was the 
great affair of the year. It was called, 
to distinguish it from the others, "The 
Annual Meeting," and upon that occasion the 
husbands and men friends of the members were 
invited and the function was in the evening. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 191 



Margaret had wished to have the club at 
her own house, before the affair of Martha Wal- 
lingford, but the annual occasions were regu- 
lated by the letters of the alphabet and it was 
incontrovertibly the turn of the letter S and 
Mrs. Sturtevant's right could not be questioned. 
During the time which elapsed before this meet- 
ing, Margaret Edes was more actively unhappy 
than she had ever been in her life and all her 
strong will could not keep the traces of that 
unhappiness from her face. Lines appeared. 
Her eyes looked large in dark hollows. Wilbur 
grew anxious about her. 

"You must go somewhere for a change," he 
said, "and I will get my cousin Marion to come 
here and keep house and look out for the chil- 
dren. You must not be bothered even with 
them. You need a complete rest and change." 

But Margaret met his anxiety with irrita- 
tion. She felt as if some fatal fascination con- 
fined her in Fairbridge and especially did she 
feel that she must be present at the annual 
meeting. Margaret never for one minute 
formulated to herself why she had this fierce 
desire. She knew in a horrible way at the back 



192 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



of her brain, but she kept the knowledge cov- 
ered as with a veil even from herself. 

She had a beautiful new gown made for the 
occasion. Since she had lost so much colour, 
she was doubtful of the wisdom of wearing her 
favourite white and gold, or black. She had 
a crepe of a peculiar shade of blue which suited 
her and she herself worked assiduously em- 
broidering it in a darker shade which brought 
out the colour of her eyes. She looked quite 
herself when the evening came and Wilbur's 
face brightened as he looked at her in her trail- 
ing blue with a little diamond crescent fasten- 
ing a tiny blue feather in her golden fluff of 
hair. 

"You certainly do look better,' ' he said hap- 
pily. 

"I am well, you old goose,' 9 said Margaret, 
■fastening her long blue gloves. "You have 
simply been fussing over nothing as I told 
you." 

"Well, I hope I have. You 'do look stunning 
to-night," said Wilbur, gazing at her with a 
pride so intense that it was almost piteous in 
its self-abnegation. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 193 



"Is that your stunt there on the table ?" he 
inquired, pointing to a long envelope. 

Margaret laughed carefully, dimpling her 
cheeks. "Yes," she said, and Wilbur took the 
envelope and put it into his pocket. "I will 
carry it for you," he said. "By the way, what 
is your stunt, honey? Did you write some- 
thing?" 

"Wait, until you hear," replied Margaret, 
and she laughed carefully again. She gath- 
ered up the train of her blue gown and turned 
upon him, her blue eyes glowing with a strange 
fire, feverish roses on her cheeks. "You are 
not to be surprised at anything to-night," she 
said and laughed again. 

She still had a laughing expression when 
they were seated in Mrs. Sturtevant's flower- 
scented drawing-room, a handsome room, thanks 
to the decorator, who was young and enthusias- 
tic. Margaret had duly considered the color 
scheme in her choice of a gown. The furniture 
was upholstered with a wisteria pattern, except 
a few chairs which were cane-seated, with sil- 
vered wood. Margaret had gone directly to 
one of these chairs. She was not sure of her 



194 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

gown being exactly the right shade of bine to 
harmonise with the wisteria at close quarters. 
The chair was tall and slender. Margaret's 
feet did not touch the floor, but the long blue 
trail of her gown concealed that, and she con- 
trived to sit as if they did. She gave the im- 
pression of a tall creature of extreme grace as 
she sat propping her back against her silvered 
chair. Wilbur gazed at her with adoration. 
He had almost forgotten the affair of Martha 
Wallingford. He had excused his Margaret 
because she was a woman and he was 
profoundly ignorant of women's strange ambi- 
tions. Now, he regarded her with unquali- 
fied admiration. He looked from her to the 
other women and back again and was en- 
tirely convinced that she outshone them all 
as a sun a star. He looked at the envelope 
in her blue lap and was sure that she had writ- 
ten something which was infinitely superior to 
the work of any other woman there. Down in 
the depths of his masculine soul, Wilbur Edes 
had a sense of amused toleration when 
women's clubs were concerned, but he always 
took his Margaret seriously, and the Zenith 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 195 

Club on that account was that night an impor- 
tant and grave organisation. He wished very 
much to smoke and he was wedged into an un- 
comfortable corner with a young girl who in- 
sisted upon talking to him and was all the time 
nervously rearranging her hair, but he had a 
good view of his Margaret in her wonderful 
blue gown, in her silver chair, and he was con- 
soled. 

"Have you read The Voor Lady?" asked 
spasmodically the girl, and drove in a slipping 
hair-pin at the same time. 

"I never read novels,'' replied Wilbur ab- 
sently, "haven't much time you know." 

"Oh, I suppose not, but that is such a won- 
derful book and only think, nobody has the 
least idea who wrote it, and it does make it so 
interesting. I thought myself it was written 
by Wilbur Jack until I came to a sentence which 
I could quite understand and that put him 
out of the question. Of course, Wilbur Jack 
is such a great genius that no young girl like 
myself pretends to understand him, but that is 
why I worship him. I tell Mamma I think he 
is the ideal writer for young girls, so elevating. 



196 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

And then I thought The Poor Lady might have 
been written by Mrs. Eudora Peasely because 
she is always so lucid and I came to a sentence 
which I could not understand at all. Oh, dear, 
I have thought of all the living writers as writ- 
ing that book and have had to give it up, and 
of course the dead ones are out of the ques- 
tion.' ' 

"Of course," said Wilbur gravely, and then 
his Margaret stood up and took some printed 
matter from an envelope and instantly the sit- 
uation became strangely tense. Men and 
women turned eager faces ; they could not have 
told why eager, but they were all conscious of 
something unusual in the atmosphere and every 
expression upon those expectant faces suddenly 
changed into one which made them as a listen- 
ing unit. Then Margaret began. 



CHAPTEB VII 

Wilbur Edes thought he had never seen his 
wife look as beautiful as she did standing there 
before them all with those fluttering leaves of 
paper in her hand. A breeze came in at an op- 
posite window and Margaret's blue feather 
tossed in it; her yellow hair crisped and 
fluffed and the paper fluttered. Margaret 
stood for an appreciable second surveying 
them all with a most singular expres- 
sion. It was compounded of honeyed sweet- 
ness, of triumph, and something else more sub- 
tle, the expression of a warrior entering battle 
and ready for death, yet terrible with defiance 
and the purpose of victory, and death for his 
foe. 

Then Margaret spoke and her thin silvery 
voice penetrated to every ear in the room. 

"Members of the Zenith Club and friends," 
said Margaret, "I take the opportunity offered 
me to-night to disclose a secret which is a 
source of much joy to myself, and which I am 

19T 



198 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

sure will be a source of joy to you also. I 
trust that since you are my friends and neigh- 
bours and associates in club work, you will 
acquit me of the charge of egotism and credit 
me with my whole motive, which is, I think, not 
an unworthy one coming to you in joy, as I 
would come in sorrow for your sympathy and 
understanding. I am about to read an extract 
from a book whose success has given me the 
most unqualified surprise and delight, knowing 
as I do that a reading by an author from her 
own work always increases the interest even 
though she may not be an able expositor by 
word of mouth of what she has written." 

Then Margaret read. She had chosen a 
short chapter which was in itself almost a 
complete little story. She read exceedingly 
well and without faltering. People listened 
with ever-growing amazement. Then Mrs. 
Jack Evarts whispered so audibly to a man at 
her side that she broke in upon Margaret's 
clear recitative. "Goodness, she's reading 
from that book that is selling so, — The Poor 
Lady — I remember every word of that chap- 
ter." 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 199 



Then while Margaret continued her reading 
imperturbably, the chorus of whispers in- 
creased. "That is from The Poor Lady, yes, it 
is. Did she write it? Why, of course, she did. 
She just said so. Isn't it wonderful that she 
has done such a thing?" 

Wilbur Edes sat with his eyes riveted upon 
his wife's face, his own gone quite pale, but 
upon it an expression of surprise and joy so 
intense that he looked almost foolish from such 
a revelation of his inner self. 

The young girl beside him drove hair pins 
frantically into her hair. She twisted up a 
lock which had strayed and fastened it. She 
looked alternately at Wilbur and Margaret. 

"Goodness gracious," said she, and did not 
trouble to whisper. "That is the next to the 
last chapter of The Poor Lady. And to think 
that your wife wrote it! Goodness gracious, 
and here she has been living right here in Fair- 
bridge all the time and folks have been seeing 
her and talking to her and never knew! Did 
you know, Mr. Edes?" 

The young girl fixed her sharp pretty eyes' 
upon Wilbur. "Never dreamed of it," he 



200 THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 



blurted out, " just as much surprised as any of 
you." 

"I don't believe I could Have Kept sucE a! 
wonderful thing as that from my own hus- 
band, 99 said the girl, who was unmarried, and 
had no lover. But Wilbur did not hear. All 
he heard was his beloved Margaret, who had 
secretly achieved fame for herself, reading on 
and on. He had not the slightest idea what 
she was reading. He had no interest what- 
ever in that. All he cared for was the) 
amazing fact that his wife, his wonder- 
ful, beautiful Margaret, had so covered 
herself with glory and honour. He had a 
slightly hurt feeling because she had not 
told him until this public revelation. He felt 
that his own private joy and pride as her hus- 
band should have been perhaps sacred and re- 
spected by her and yet possibly she was right. 
This public glory might have seemed to her the 
one which would the most appeal to him. 

He had, as he had said, not read the book, but 
he recalled with a sort of rapturous tenderness 
for Margaret how he had seen the posters all 
along the railroad as he commuted to the city, 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 201 



and along the elevated road. His face gazing 
at Margaret was as beautiful in its perfectly 
unselfish pride and affection, as a mother's. 
To think that his darling had done snch a thing ! 
He longed to be at home alone with her and say- 
to her what he could not say before all these 
people. He thought of a very good reason why 
she had chosen this occasion to proclaim her 
authorship of the famous anonymous novel. 
She had been so humiliated, poor child, by the 
insufferable rudeness of that Western girl that 
she naturally wished to make good. And how 
modest and unselfish she had been to make the 
attempt to exalt another author when she her- 
self was so much greater. Wilbur fully ex- 
onerated Margaret for what she did in the 
case of Martha Wallingford in the light of this 
revelation. His modest, generous, noble wife 
had honestly endeavoured to do the girl a fa- 
vour, to assist her in spite of herself and she 
had received nothing save rudeness, ingrati- 
tude, and humiliation in return. Now, she was 
asserting herself. She was showing all Fair- 
bridge that she was the one upon whom hon- 
our should be showered. She was showing him 



202 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

and rightfully. He remembered with compunc- 
tion his severity toward her on account of the 
Martha Wallingford affair, his beautiful, 
gifted Margaret! Why, even then she might 
have electrified that woman's club by making 
the revelation which she had won to-night and 
reading this same selection from her own book. 
He had not read Martha Wallingford 's Hearts 
Astray. He thought that the title was enough 
for him. He knew that it must be one of the 
womanish, hysterical, sentimental type of 
things which he despised. But Margaret had 
been so modest that she had held back from the 
turning on the search-light of her own greater 
glory. She had made the effort which had re- 
sulted so disastrously to obtain a lesser one, 
and he had condemned her. He knew that 
women always used circuitous ways toward 
their results, just as men used sledge-hammer 
ones. Why should a man criticise a woman's 
method any more than a woman criticise a 
man's? Wilbur, blushing like a girl with pride 
and delight, listened to his wife and fairly 
lashed himself. He was wholly unworthy of 
such a woman, he knew. 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 203 

When the reading was over and people 
crowded around Margaret and congratulated 
her, he stood aloof. He felt that he could not 
speak of this stupendous thing with her until 
they were alone. Then Doctor Sturtevant's 
great bulk pressed against him and his son- 
orous voice said in his ear, "By Jove, old man, 
your wife has drawn a lucky number. Con- 
gratulations." Wilbur gulped as he thanked 
him. Then Sturtevant went on talking about 
a matter which was rather dear to Wilbur's 
own ambition and which he knew had been ten- 
tatively discussed: the advisability of his run- 
ning for State Senator in the autumn. Wil- 
bur knew it would be a good thing for him pro- 
fessionally, and at the bottom of his heart he 
knew that his wife's success had been the last 
push toward his own. Other men came in and 
began talking, leading from his wife's success 
toward his own, until Wilbur realised himself 
as dazzled. 

He did not notice what Von Rosen noticed, 
because he had kept his attention upon the girl, 
that Annie Eustace had turned deadly pale 
when Margaret had begun her reading and that 



204 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Alice Mendon who was seated beside her had 
slipped an arm around her and quietly and un- 
obtrusively led her out of the room. Von 
Kosen thought that Miss Eustace must have 
turned faint because of the heat, and was con- 
scious of a distinct anxiety and disappoint- 
ment. He had, without directly acknowledging 
it to himself, counted upon walking home with 
Annie Eustace, but yet he hoped that she might 
return, that she had not left the home. When 
the refreshments were served, he looked for 
her, but Annie was long since at Alice Men- 
don *s house in her room. Alice had hurried 
jher there in her carriage. 

"Come home with me, dear,'" she had whis- 
pered, "and we can have a talk together. iTour 
people won't expect you yet." 

Therefore, while Karl von Kosen, wKo Had 
gone to this annual meeting of the Zenith Club 
for the sole purpose of walking home with 
Annie, waited, the girl sat in a sort of dumb and 
speechless state in Alice Mendon 's room. 
It seemed to her like a bad dream. 
Alice herself stormed. She had a high temper, 
but seldom gave way to it. Now she did. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 205 

There was something about this which roused 
her utmost powers of indignation. 

"It is simply an outrage," declared Alice, 
marching up and down the large room, her rich 
white gown trailing behind her, her chin high. 
"I did not think her capable of it. It is 
the worst form of thievery in the world, 
stealing the work of another's brain. It is in- 
conceivable that Margaret Edes could have 
done such a preposterous thing. I never liked 
her. I don't care if I do admit it, but I never 
thought she was capable of such an utterly ig- 
noble deed. It was all that I could do to master 
myself, not to stand up before them all and de- 
nounce her. "Well, her time will come." 

" Alice," said a ghastly little voice from the 
stricken figure on the couch, "are you sure? 
Am I sure? Was that from my book?" 

"Of course it was from your book. Why, 
you know it was from your book, Annie Eus- 
tace," cried Alice and her voice sounded high 
with anger toward poor Annie herself. 

"I hoped that we might be mistaken after 
all," said the voice, which had a bewildered 
quality. Annie Eustace had a nature which 



206 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



could not readily grasp some of the evil of hu- 
manity. She was in reality dazed before this. 
She was ready to believe an untruth rather than 
the incredible truth. But Alice Mendon was 
merciless. She resolved that Annie should 
know once for all. 

"We are neither of us mistaken," she said. 
"Margaret Edes read a chapter from your 
book, The Poor Lady, and without stating in 
so many words that she was the author, she 
did what was worse. She made everybody 
think so. Annie, she is bad, bad, bad. Call the 
spade a spade and face it. See how black it is. 
Margaret Edes has stolen from you your best 
treasure." 

"I don't care for that so much," said Annie 
Eustace, "but — I loved her, Alice." 

"Then," said Alice, "she has stolen more 
than your book. She has stolen the light by 
which you wrote it. It is something hideous, 
hideous." 

Annie gave a queer little dry sob. "Mar- 
garet could not have done it," she moaned. 

Alice crossed swiftly to her and knelt beside 
her. "Darling," she said, "you must face it. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 207 



It is better. I do not say so because I do not 
personally like Margaret Edes, but you must 
have courage and face it." 

"I have not courage enough," said Annie 
and she felt that she had not, for it was one of 
the awful tasks of the world which was before 
her: The viewing the mutilated face of love 
itself. 

"You must," said Alice. She put an arm 
around the slight figure and drew the fair head 
to her broad bosom, her maternal bosom, which 
served her friends in good stead, since it did 
not pillow the heads of children. Friends in 
distress are as children to the women of her 
type. 

"Darling," she said in her stately voice 
from which the anger had quite gone. "Dar- 
ling, you must face it. Margaret did read that 
chapter from your book and she told, or as good 
as told everybody that she had written it." 

Then Annie sobbed outright and the tears 
came. 

"Oh," she cried, "Oh, Alice, how she must 
want success to do anything like that, poor, 
poor Margaret ! Oh, Alice ! ' 9 



208 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



"How she must love herself," said Alice 
firmly. "Annie, yon mnst face it. Margaret 
is a self-lover; her whole heart turns in love 
toward her own self, instead of toward those 
whom she should love and who love her. 
Annie, Margaret is bad, bad, with a strange 
degenerate badness. She dates back to the 
sins of the First Garden. You must turn your 
back upon her. You must not love her any 
more." 

"No, I must not love her any more," agreed 
Annie, "and that is the pity of it. I must not 
love her, Alice, but I must pity her until I die. 
Poor Margaret!" 

"Poor Annie," said Alice. "You worked so 
hard over that book, dear, and you were so 
pleased. Annie, what shall you do about it?" 

Annie raised her head from Alice's bosom 
and sat up straight, with a look of terror. 

"Alice," she cried, "I must go to-morrow 
and see my publishers. I must go down on my 
knees to them if necessary." 

"Do you mean," asked Alice slowly, "never 
to tell?" 

"Oh, never, never, never!" cried Annie. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 209 



"I doubt," said Alice, "if you can keep such 
a matter secret. I doubt if your publishers 
will consent." 

"They must. I will never have it known! 
Poor Margaret!" 

"I don't pity her at all," said Alice. "I do 
pity her husband who worships her, and there 
is talk of his running for State Senator and 
this would ruin him. And I am sorry for the 
children. ' 9 

"Nobody shall ever know," said Annie. 

"But how can you manage with the publish- 
ers?" 

"I don't know. I will." 

"And you will have written that really won- 
derful book and never have the credit for it. 
You will live here and see Margaret Edes 
praised for what you have done." 

"Poor Margaret," said Annie. "I must go 
now. I know I can trust you never to 
speak." 

"Of course, but I do not think it right." 
"I don't care whether it is right or not," 
said Annie. "It must never be known." 
"You are better than I am," said Alice as 



210 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



she rang the bell, which was presently an- 
swered. " Peter has gone home for the night, 
Marie said," Alice told Annie, "but Marie and 
I will walk home with yon." 

"Alice, it is only a step." 

"I know, bnt it is late." 

"It is not much after ten, and — I would 
rather go alone, if you don't mind, Alice. I 
want to get settled a little before Aunt Harriet 
sees me. I can do it better alone. ' 9 

Alice laughed. "Well," she said, "Marie 
and I will stand on the front porch until you 
are out of sight from there and then we will go 
to the front gate. We can see nearly to your 
house and we can hear if you call." 

It was a beautiful night. The moon was high 
in a sky which was perceptibly blue. In the 
west was still a faint glow, which was like a 
memory of a cowslip sunset. The street and 
the white house-front were plumy with soft 
tree shadows wavering in a gentle wind. 
Annie was glad when she was alone in the 
night. She needed a moment for solitariness 
and readjustment since one of the strongest 
readjustments on earth faced her — the reali- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 211 



sation that what she had loved was not. She 
did not walk rapidly but lingered along the 
road. She was thankful that neither of her 
aunts had been to the annual meeting. She 
would not need to account for her time so 
closely. Suddenly she heard a voice, quite a 
loud voice, a man's, with a music of gladness 
in it. Annie knew instinctively whose it was, 
and she stepped quickly upon a lawn and stood 
behind a clump of trees. A man and woman 
passed her — Margaret Edes and her husband — 
and Wilbur was saying in his glad, loving 
voice, "To think you should have done such a 
thing, Margaret, my dear, you will never know 
how proud I am of you." 

Annie heard Margaret's voice in a whisper 
hushing Wilbur. "You speak so loud, dear," 
said Margaret, "everybody will hear you." 

"I don't care if they do," said Wilbur. "I 
should like to proclaim it from the housetops." 
Then they passed and the rose scent of Mar- 
garet's garments was in Annie's face. She 
was glad that Margaret had hushed her hus- 
band. She argued that it proved some lit- 
tle sense of shame, but oh, when all alone with 



212 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



her own husband, she had made no disclaimer. 
Annie came out from her hiding and went on. 
The Edes ahead of her melted into the shad- 
ows but she could still hear Wilbur's glad 
voice. The gladness in it made her pity Mar- 
garet more. She thought how horrible it must 
be to deceive love like that, to hear that joyful 
tone, and know it all undeserved. Then sud- 
denly she heard footsteps behind and walked 
to one side to allow whoever it was to pass, but 
a man's voice said: "Good evening, Miss Eus- 
tace," and Von Eosen had joined her. He had 
in truth been waiting like any village beau near 
Alice Mendon's house for the chance of her 
emerging alone. 

Annie felt annoyed, and yet her heart beat 
strangely. 

"Good evening, Mr. von Rosen/ 9 she said 
and still lingered as if to allow him to pass, but 
he slowed his own pace and sauntered by her 
side. 

"A fine evening,' ' he remarked tritely. 
"Very," agreed Annie. 
"I saw you at the evening club," said Von 
Rosen presently. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 213 



"Yes," said Annie, "I was there." 
"You left early." 

"Yes, I left quite early with Alice. I have 
been with her since." 

Annie wondered if Mr. von Eosen suspected 
anything but his next words convinced her that 
he did not. 

"I suppose that you were as much surprised 
as the rest of us, although you are her inti- 
mate friend, at Mrs. Edes' announcement con- 
cerning the authorship of that successful 
novel," said he. 

"Yes," said Annie faintly. 

"Of course you had no idea that she had 
written it?" 

"No." 

"Have you read it!" 
"Yes." 

"What do you think of it? I almost never 
read novels but I suppose I must tackle that one. 
Did you like it?" 

"Quite well," said Annie. 

"Tell me what is it all about?" 

Annie could endure no more. "It will spoil 
the book for you if I tell you, Mr. von Rosen," 



214 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

said she, and her voice was at once firm and 
piteous. She could not tell the story of her 
own book to him. She would be as deceitful 
as poor Margaret, for all the time he would 
think she was talking of Margaret's work and 
not of her own. 

Von Rosen laughed. After all he cared very- 
little indeed about the book. He had what he 
cared for: a walk home with this very sweet 
and very natural girl, who did not seem to care 
whether he walked home with her or not. 

"I dare say you are right," he said, "but I 
doubt if your telling me about it would spoil 
the book for me, because it is more than prob- 
able that I shall never read it after all. I may 
if it comes in my way because I was somewhat 
surprised. I had never thought of Mrs. Edes 
as that sort of person. However, so many 
novels are written nowadays, and some mighty 
queer ones are successful that I presume I 
should not be surprised. Anybody in Pair- 
bridge might be the author of a successful 
novel. You might, Miss Eustace, for all I 
know." 

Annie said nothing. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 215 



"Perhaps you are," said Von Eosen. He 
had not the least idea of the thinness of the ice. 
Annie trembled. Her truthfulness was as her 
life. She hated even evasions. Luckily Von 
Eosen was so far from suspicion that he did 
not wait for an answer. 

"Mrs. Edes reads well," he said. 

"Very well indeed," returned Annie eagerly. 

"I suppose an author can read more under- 
standingly from her own work," said Von 
Eosen. "Don't you think so, Miss Eustace?" 

"I think she might," said Annie. 

"I don't know but I shall read that book 
after all," said Von Eosen. "I rather liked 
that extract she gave us. It struck me as out 
of the common run of women's books. I beg 
your pardon, Miss Eustace. If you were a 
writer yourself I could not speak so, but you 
are not, and you must know as well as I do, that 
many of the books written by women are sim- 
ply sloughs of oversweetened sentiment, and of 
entirely innocent immorality. But that chap- 
ter did not sound as if it could belong to such 
a book. It sounded altogether too logical for 
the average woman writer. I think I will read 



216 THE BHTTEBFLY HOUSE 



it. Then after I have read it, you will not re- 
fuse to discuss it with me, will you?" 

"I do not think so," replied Annie tremu- 
lously. Would he never talk of anything ex- 
cept that book? To her relief he did, to her re- 
lief and scarcely acknowledged delight. 

"Are you interested in curios, things from 
Egyptian tombs, for instance?" he inquired 
with brutal masculine disregard of sequence. 

Annie was bewildered, but she managed to 
reply that she thought she might be. She had 
heard of Von Eo sen's very interesting collec- 
tion. 

"I happened to meet your aunt, Miss Har- 
riet, this afternoon," said Von Eosen, "and I 
inquired if she were by any chance interested 
and she said she was." 

"Yes," said Annie. She had never before 
dreamed that her Aunt Harriet was in the least 
interested in Egyptian tombs. 

"I ventured to ask if she and her sister, Miss 
Susan, and you also, if you cared to see it, 
would come some afternoon and look at my col- 
lection," said Von Eosen. 

Nobody could have dreamed from his casual 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 217 



tone how carefully he had planned it all out: 
the visit of Annie and her aunts, the delicate 
little tea served in the study, the possible little 
stroll with Annie in his garden. Von Rosen 
knew that one of the aunts, Miss Harriet, was 
afflicted with rose cold, and therefore, would 
probably not accept his invitation to view his 
rose-garden, and he also knew that it was im- 
probable that both sisters would leave their 
aged mother. It was, of course, a toss-up as to 
whether Miss Harriet or Miss Susan would 
come. It was also a toss-up as to whether or 
not they might both come, and leave little Annie 
as companion for the old lady. In fact, he had 
to admit to himself that the latter contingency 
was the more probable. He was well accus- 
tomed to being appropriated by elder ladies, 
with the evident understanding that he pre- 
ferred them. He would simply have to make 
the best of it and show his collection as grace- 
fully as possible and leave out the rose-garden 
and the delicious little tete-a-tete with this 
young rose of a girl and think of something 
else. For Karl von Rosen in these days was 
accustoming himself to a strange visage in his 



218 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



own mental looking-glass. He had not altered 
his attitude toward women but toward one wo- 
man, and that one was now sauntering beside 
him in the summer moonlight, her fluffy white 
garments now and then blowing across his sober 
garb. He was conscious of holding himself in 
a very tight rein. He wondered how long men 
were usually about their love-making. He 
wished to make love that very instant, but he 
feared lest the girl might be lost by such im- 
petuosity. In all likelihood, the thought of love 
in connection with himself had never entered 
her mind. Why should it? Karl in love was 
yery modest and saw himself as a very insig- 
nificant figure. Probably this flower-like young 
creature had never thought of love at all. She 
had lived her sweet simple village life. She 
had obeyed her grandmother and her aunts, 
Sdone her household tasks and embroidered. 
He remembered the grimy bit of linen which 
he had picked up and he could not see the very 
slightest connection between that sort of thing 
and love and romance. Of course, she had read 
a few love stories and the reasoning by analogy 
'develops in all minds. She might have built a 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 219 

few timid air castles for herself upon tHe foun- 
dations of the love stories in fiction, and 
this brought him around to the fatal subject 
again almost inevitably, 

"Do you know, Miss Eustace/' he said, 
"that I am wishing a very queer thing about 
you?" 

"What, Mr. von Rosen?" 

"I am wishing, you know that I would not 
esteem you more highly, it is not that, but I am 
wishing that you also had written a book, a 
really good sort of love story, novel, you 
know." 

Annie gasped. 

"I don't mean because Mrs. Edes wrote The 
Poor Lady. It is not that. I am quite sure 
that you could have written a book every whit 
as good as hers but what I do mean is — I feel 
that a woman writer if she writes the best sort 
of book must obtain a certain insight concern- 
ing human nature which requires a long time 
for most women." Von Rosen was rather 
mixed, but Annie did not grasp it. She was 
very glad that they were nearing her own 
home. She could not endure much more. 



220 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



"Is The Poor Lady a love story 1" inquired 
Von Eosen. 

"There is a little love in it," replied Annie 
faintly. 

"I shall certainly read it," said Von Rosen. 
He shook hands with Annie at her gate and 
wanted to kiss her. She looked up in his face 
like an adorably timid, trustful little child and 
it seemed almost his duty to kiss her, but he did 
not. He said good-night and again mentioned 
his collection of curios. 

"I hope you will feel inclined to come and see 
them," he said, "with — your aunts." 

"Thank you," replied Annie, "I shall be 
very glad to come, if both Aunt Harriet and 
Aunt Susan do not. That would of course 
oblige me to stay with grandmother." 

"Of course," assented Von Rosen, but he 
said inwardly, "Hang Grandmother." 

In his inmost self, Von Rosen was not a 
model clergyman. He, however, had no reason 
whatever to hang grandmother, but quite the 
reverse, although he did not so conclude, as he 
considered the matter on his way home. It 
seemed to him that this darling of a girl was 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 221 



fairly hedged in by a barbed wire fence of femi- 
nine relatives. 

He passed the Edes' house on his way and 
saw that a number of the upper windows were 
still lighted. He even heard a masculine voice 
pitched on a high cadence of joy and triumph. 
He smiled a little scornfully. "He thinks his 
wife is the most wonderful woman in the 
world," he told himself, "and I daresay that a 
novel is simply like an over-sweetened ice- 
cream, with an after taste of pepper, out of 
sheer deviltry.' ' Had he known it, Margaret 
Edes herself was tasting pepper, mustard and 
all the fierce condiments known, in her very 
soul. It was a singular thing that Margaret 
had been obliged to commit an ignoble deed in 
order to render her soul capable of tasting to 
the full, but she had been so constituted. As 
Karl von Rosen passed that night, she was sit- 
ting in her room, clad in her white silk negligee 
and looking adorable, and her husband was 
fairly on his knees before her, worshipping 
her, and she was suffering after a fashion 
hitherto wholly uncomprehended by her. Mar- 
garet had never known that she could possibly 



222 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

be to blame for anything, that she could sit in 
judgment upon herself. Now she knew it and 
the knowledge brought a torture which had 
been unimaginable by her. She strove not to 
make her shrinking from her husband and his 
exultation — her terrified shrinking — evident. 

"Oh, Margaret, you are simply wonderful 
beyond words," said Wilbur, gazing up into her 
face. "I always knew you were wonderful, of 
course, darling, but this ! Why, Margaret, you 
have gained an international reputation from 
that one book! And the reviews have been 
unanimous, almost unanimous in their praise. 
I have not read it, dear. I am so ashamed of 
myself, but you know I never read novels, but 
I am going to read my Margaret's novel. Oh, 
my dear, my wonderful, wonderful dear!" 
Wilbur almost sobbed. "Do you know what 
it may do for me, too?" he said. "Do you 
know, Margaret, it may mean my election as 
Senator. One can never tell what may sway 
popular opinion. Once, if anybody had told 
me that I might be elected to office and my elec- 
tion might possibly be due to the fact that my 
wife had distinguished myself, I should have 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 223 



been humbled to the dust. But I cannot be 
humbled by any success which may result from 
your success. I did not know my wonderful 
Margaret then." Wilbur kissed his wife's 
hands. He was almost ridiculous, but it was 
horribly tragic for Margaret. 

She longed as she had never longed for any- 
thing in her life, for the power to scream, to 
shout in his ears the truth, but she could not. 
She was bound hard and fast in the bands of 
her own falsehood. She could not so disgrace 
her husband, her children. "Why had she not 
thought of them before ? She had thought only 
of herself and her own glory, and that glory 
had turned to stinging bitterness upon her 
soul. She was tasting the bitterest medicine 
which life and the whole world contains. And 
at the same time, it was not remorse 
that she felt. That would have been easier. 
What she endured was self-knowledge. The 
reflection of one's own character under 
unbiased cross-lights is a hideous thing for 
a self-lover. She was thinking, while she 
listened to Wilbur's rhapsodies. Finally she 
scarcely heard him. Then her attention 



224 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

was suddenly keenly fixed. There were hor- 
rible complications about this which she had 
not considered. Margaret's mind had no busi- 
ness turn. She had not for a moment thought 
of the financial aspect of the whole. "Wilbur 
was different. What he was now saying was 
very noble, but very disconcerting. "Of 
course, I know, darling, that all this means a 
pile of money, but one thing you must remem- 
ber: it is for yourself alone. Not one penny 
of it will I ever touch and more than that it is 
not to interfere in the least with my expendi- 
tures for you, my wife, and the children. 
Everything of that sort goes on as before. 
You have the same allowance for yourself and 
the children as before. "Whatever comes from 
your book is your own to do with as you choose. 
I do not even wish you to ask my advice about 
the disposal of it." 

Margaret was quite pale as she looked at 
him. She remembered now the sum which 
Annie had told her she was to receive. She 
made no disclaimer. Her lips felt stiff. 
"While Wilbur wished for no disclaimer, she 
could yet see that he was a little surprised at 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 225 

receiving none, but she could not speak. She 
merely gazed at him in a helpless sort of fash- 
ion. The grapes which hung over her friend's 
garden wall were not very simple. They were 
much beside grapes. Wilbur returned her 
look pityingly. 

"Poor girl," he said, kissing her hands 
again; "she is all tired out and I must let her 
go to bed. Standing on a pedestal is rather 
tiresome, if it is gratifying, isn't it, sweet- 
heart?" 

"Yes," said Margaret, with a weary sigh 
from her heart. How little the poor man knew 
of the awful torture of standing upon the ped- 
estal of another, and at the same time holding 
before one's eyes that looking-glass with all 
the cross-lights of existence full upon it ! 

Margaret went to bed, but she could not 
sleep. All night long she revolved the prob- 
lem of how she should settle the matter with 
Annie Eustace. She did not for a second fear 
Annie's betrayal, but there was that matter of 
the publishers. Would they be content to al- 
low matters to rest? 

The next morning Margaret endeavoured to 



226 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



get Annie on the telephone but found that she 
had gone to New York. Annie's Aunt Harriet 
replied. She herself had sent the girl on sev- 
eral errands. 

Margaret could only wait. She feared lest 
Annie might not return before "Wilbur and in 
such a case she could not discuss matters with 
her before the next day. Margaret had a hor- 
rible time during the next six hours. The mail 
"was full of letters of congratulation. A local 
reporter called to interview her. She sent 
word that she was out, but he was certain that 
he had seen her. The children heard the news 
and pestered her with inquiries about her book 
and wondering looks at her. Callers came in 
the afternoon and it was all about her book. 
Nobody could know how relieved she was after 
hearing the four-thirty train, to see little Annie 
Eustace coming through her gate. Annie 
stood before her stiffly. The day was very 
warm and the girl looked tired and heated. 

"No, thank you," she said, "I can not sit 
down. I only stopped to tell you that I have ar- 
ranged with the publishers. They will keep 
the secret. I shall have rather a hard task ar- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 227 



ranging about the checks, because I fear it will 
involve a little deceit and I do not like deceit.' ' 

Annie, as she spoke, looked straight at Mar- 
garet and there was something terrible in that 
clear look of unsoiled truth. Margaret put out 
a detaining hand. 

"Sit down for a minute, please,' 9 she said 
cringingly. "I want to explain ?" 

"There is nothing whatever to explain,' ' re- 
plied Annie. "I heard." 

"Can you ever forgive me?" 

"I do not think," said Annie, "that this is 
an ordinary offence about which to talk of for- 
giveness. I do pity you, Margaret, for I realise 
how dreadfully you must have wanted what did 
not belong to you." 

Margaret winced. "Well, if it is any satis* 
faction to you, I am realising nothing but mis- 
ery from it," she said in a low voice. 

"I don't see how you can help that," replied 
Annie simply. Then she went away. 

It proved Margaret's unflinching trust in the 
girl and Annie's recognition of no possibility 
except that trust, that no request nor promise 
as to secrecy had been made. Annie, after she 



228 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

got home, almost forgot the whole for a time, 
since her Aunt Harriet, and Aunt Harriet was 
the sister who was subject to rose-colds, an- 
nounced her determination to call at Mr. von 
Rosen's the next afternoon with Annie and see 
his famous collection. 

"Of course," said she, "the invitation was 
meant particularly for me, since I am one of 
his parishioners, and I think it will be improv- 
ing to you, Annie, to view antiquities." 

"Yes, Aunt Harriet," said Annie. She was 
wondering if she would be allowed to wear her 
pale blue muslin and the turquoise necklace 
which was a relic of her grandmother's girl- 
hood. Aunt Susan sniffed delicately. 

"I will stay with Mother," she said with a 
virtuous air. 

The old lady, stately in her black satin, with 
white diamonds gleaming on her veinous hands, 
glanced acutely at them. The next day, when 
her daughter Harriet insisted that the cross 
barred muslin was not too spoiled to wear to 
the inspection of curios, she declared that it 
was simply filthy, and that Annie must wear 
her blue, and that the little string of turquoise 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 229 



beads was not in the least too dressy for the 
occasion. 

It therefore happened that Annie and her 
Aunt Harriet set forth at three o'clock in the 
afternoon, Annie in blue, and her aunt in thin 
black grenadine with a glitter of jet and a little 
black bonnet with a straight tuft of green ris- 
ing from a little wobble of jet, and a black- 
fringed parasol tilted well over her eyes. 
Annie's charming little face was framed in a 
background of white parasol. Margaret saw 
them pass as she sat on her verandah. She 
had received more congratulatory letters that 
day, and the thief envied the one from whom 
she had taken. Annie bowed to Margaret, and 
her Aunt Harriet said something about the 
heat, in a high shrill voice. 

"She is a wonderful woman, to have written 
that successful novel," said Aunt Harriet, 
"and I am going to write her a congratulatory 
note, now you have bought that stationery at 
Tiffany's. I feel that such a subject demands 
special paper. She is a wonderful woman and 
her family have every reason to be proud of 
her." 



230 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 
"Yes," said Annie. 

"It is rather odd, and I have often thought 
so," said Aunt Harriet, moving alongside with 
stately sweeps of black skirts, "that you have 
shown absolutely no literary taste. As you 
know, I have often written poetry, of course 
not for publication, and my friends have been 
so good as to admire it." 

"Yes, Aunt Harriet," said Annie. 

"I realise that you have never appreciated 
my poems," said Aunt Harriet tartly. 

"I don't think I understand poetry very 
well," little Annie said with meekness. 

"It does require a peculiar order of mind, 
and you have never seemed to me in the least 
poetical or imaginative," said her aunt in an 
appeased voice. "For instance, I could not 
imagine your writing a book like Mrs. Edes, 
and The Poor Lady was anonymous, and any- 
body might have written it as far as one knew. 
But I should never have imagined her for a 
moment as capable of doing it." 

"No," said Annie. 

Then they had come to the parsonage and 
Jane Eiggs, as rigid as starched linen could 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 231 



make a human being, admitted them, and pres- 
ently after a little desultory conversation, the 
collection, which was really a carefully made 
one, and exceedingly good and interesting, was 
being displayed. Then came the charming little 
tea which Von Rosen had planned ; then the sug- 
gestion with regard to the rose-garden and 
Aunt Harriet's terrified refusal, knowing as 
she knew the agony of sneezes and sniffs sure 
to follow its acceptance ; and then Annie, a vis- 
ion in blue, was walking among the roses with 
Von Rosen and both were saying things which 
they never could remember afterward — about 
things in which neither had the very slightest 
interest. It was only when they had reached 
the end of the pergola, trained over with climb- 
ers, and the two were seated on a rustic bench 
therein, that the conversation to be remem- 
bered began. 



CHAPTER Vin 



The conversation began, paradoxically, with a 
silence. Otherwise, it would have begun with 
platitudes. Since neither Von Eosen nor Annie 
Eustace were given usually to platitudes, 
the silence was unavoidable. Both instinct- 
ively dreaded with a pleasureable dread the 
shock of speech. In a way this was the first 
time the two had been alone with any chance 
of a seclusion protracted beyond a very few 
minutes. In the house was Aunt Harriet 
Eustace, who feared a rose, as she might have 
feared the plague, and, moreover, as Annie 
comfortably knew, had imparted the knowledge 
to Von Eosen as they had walked down the per- 
gola, that she would immediately fall asleep. 

"Aunt Harriet always goes to sleep in her 
chair after a cup of tea," Annie had said and 
had then blushed redly. 

"Does she?" asked Von Rosen with appar- 
ent absent-mindedness but in reality, keenly. 
He excused himself for a moment, left Annie 

232 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 233 

standing in the pergola and hurried back to 
the house, where he interviewed Jane Riggs, 
and told her not to make any noise, as Miss 
Eustace in the library would probably fall 
asleep, as was her wont after a cup of tea. 
Jane Riggs assented, but she looked after him 
with a long, slow look. Then she nodded her 
head stiffly and went on washing cups and sau- 
cers quietly. She spoke only one short sen- 
tence to herself. "He's a man and it's got to 
be somebody. Better be her than anybody 
else." 

When the two at the end of the pergola be- 
gan talking, it was strangely enough about the 
affair of the Syrian girl. 

"I suppose, have always supposed, that the 
poor young thing's husband came and stole his 
little son," said Von Rosen. 

"You would have adopted him?" asked 
Annie in a shy voice. 

"I think I would not have known any other 
course to take," replied Von Rosen. 

"It was very good of you," Annie said. She 
cast a little glance of admiration at him. 

Von Rosen laughed. "It is not goodness 



234 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



which counts to one's credit when one is simply- 
chucked into it by Providence/ ' he returned. 

Annie laughed. "To think of your speaking 
of Providence as 1 chucking.' " 

"It is rather awful,' ' admitted Von Eosen, 
"but somehow I never do feel as if I need be 
quite as straight-laced with you." 

"Mr. von Rosen, you have talked with me ex- 
actly twice, and I am at a loss as to whether I 
should consider that remark of yours as a com- 
pliment or not." 

"I meant it for one," said Von Rosen 
earnestly. "I should not have used that ex- 
pression. What I meant was I felt that I 
could be myself with you, and not weigh words 
or split hairs. A clergyman has to do a lot 
of that, you know, Miss Eustace, and some- 
times (perhaps all the time) he hates it; it 
makes him feel like a hypocrite." 

"Then it is all right," said Annie rather 
vaguely. She gazed up at the weave of leaves 
and blossoms, then down at the wavering car- 
pet of their shadows. 

"It is lovely here," she said. 

The young man looked at the slender young 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 235 



creature in the blue gown and smiled with utter 
content. 

"It is very odd," he said, "but nothing ex- 
cept blue and that particular shade of blue 
would have harmonised." 

"I should have said green or pink." 

"They would surely have clashed. If you 
can't melt into nature, it is much safer to try 
for a discord. You are much surer to chord. 
That blue does chord, and I doubt if a green 
would not have been a sort of swear word in 
colour here." 

"I am glad you like it," said Annie like a 
school girl. She felt very much like one. 

"I like you," Von Rosen said abruptly. 

Annie said nothing. She sat very still. 

"No, I don't like you. I love you," said 
Von Rosen. 

"How can you? You have talked with me 
only twice." 

"That makes no difference with me. Does 
it with you?" 

"No," said Annie, "but I am not at all sure 
about — " 

"About what, dear?" 



236 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



" About what my aunts and grandmother will 
say." 

"Do you think they will object to me?" 
"No-o." 

"What is it makes you doubtful? I have a 
little fortune of my own. I have an income 
besides my salary. I can take care of you. 
They can trust you to me." 

Annie looked at him with a quick flush of re- 
sentment. "As if I would even think of such 
a thing as that!" 

"What then?" 

"You will laugh, but grandmother is very 
old, although she sits up so straight, and she 
depends on me, and — " 

"And what?" 

"If I married you, I could not, of course, 
play pinocle with grandmother on Sunday." 

"Oh, yes, you could. I most certainly should 
not object." 

"Then that makes it hopeless." 

Von Eosen looked at her in perplexity. "I 
am afraid I don't understand you, dear little 
soul." 

"No, you do not. You see, grandmother is 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 237 



in reality very good, almost too good to live, 
and thinking she is being a little wicked play- 
ing pinocle on Sunday when Aunt Harriet and 
Aunt Susan don't know it, sort of keeps her 
going. I don't just know why myself, but I 
am sure of it. Now the minute she was sure 
that you, who are the minister, did not object, 
she would not care a bit about pinocle and it 
would hurt her." 

Annie looked inconceivably young. She 
knitted her candid brows and stared at him 
with round eyes of perplexity. Karl von 
Rosen shouted with laughter. 

"Oh, well, if that is all," he said, "I object 
strenuously to your playing pinocle with your 
grandmother on Sunday. The only way you 
can manage will be to play hookey from 
church." 

"I need not do that always/'' said Annie. 
"My aunts take naps Sunday afternoons, but 
I am sure grandmother could keep awake if 
she thought she could be wicked." 

"Well, you can either play hookey from 
church, or run away Sunday afternoons, or if 
you prefer and she is able, I will drive your 



238 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



grandmother over here and you can play 
pinocle in my study.' ' 

"Then I do think she will live to be a hun- 
dred," said Annie with a peal of laughter. 

"Stop laughing and kiss me," said Von 
Rosen. 

"I seldom kiss anybody." 
"That is the reason." 

When Annie looked up from her lover's 
shoulder, a pair of topaz eyes were mysteri- 
ously regarding her. 

"The cat never saw me kiss anybody," said 
Von Rosen. 

"Do you think the cat knows?" asked Annie, 
blushing and moving away a little. 

"Who knows what any animal knows or does 
not know?" replied Von Rosen. "When we 
discover that mystery, we may have found the 
key to existence." 

Then the cat sprang into Annie's blue lap 
and she stroked his yellow back and looked at 
Von Rosen with eyes suddenly reflective, rather 
coolly. 

"After all, I, nor nobody else, ever heard of 
such a thing as this," said she. "Do you mean 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 239 



that you consider this an engagement ?" she 
asked in astonishment. 

"I most certainly do." 

" After we have only really seen and talked 
to each other twice!" 

"It has been all our lives and we have just 
found it out," said Von Rosen. "Of course, 
it is unusual, but who cares? Do you?" 

"No, I don't," said Annie. They leaned to- 
gether over the yellow cat and kissed each 
other. 

"But what an absurd minister's wife I shall 
be," said Annie. "To think of your marrying 
a girl who has staid at home from church and 
played cards with her grandmother!" 

"I am not at all sure," said Von Rosen, 
"that you do not get more benefit, more spirit- 
ual benefit, than you would have done from my 
sermons." 

"I think," said Annie, "that you are just 
about as funny a minister as I shall be a 
minister's wife." 

"I never thought I should be married at all." 

"Why not?" 

"I did not care for women." 



240 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

* 1 Then why do you now?" 

"Because you are a woman." 

Then there was a sudden movement in front 
of them. The leaf-shadows flickered; the cat 
jumped down from Annie 's lap and ran away, 
his great yellow plume of tail waving angrily, 
and Margaret Edes stood before them. She was 
faultlessly dressed as usual. A woman of her 
type cannot be changed utterly by force of cir- 
cumstances in a short time. Her hat was loaded 
with wisteria. She wore a wisteria gown of 
soft wool. She held up her skirts daintily. A 
great amethyst gleamed at her throat, but her 
face, wearing a smile like a painted one, was 
dreadful. It was inconceivable, but Margaret 
Edes had actually in view the banality of con- 
fessing her sin to her minister. Of course, 
Annie was the one who divined her purpose. 
Von Eosen was simply bewildered. He rose, 
and stood with an air of polite attention. 

"Margaret," cried Annie, "Margaret!" 

The man thought that his sweetheart was 
simply embarrassed, because of discovery. He 
did not understand why she bade him peremp- 
torily to please go in the house and see if Aunt 



They leaned together over the yellow cat and 
kissed each other 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 241 



Harriet were awake, that she wished to speak 
to Mrs. Edes. He, however, went as bidden, 
already discovering that man is as a child to a 
woman when she is really in earnest. 

When he was quite out of hearing, Annie 
turned upon her friend. " Margaret,' 1 she 
said, "Margaret, you must not." 

Margaret turned her desperate eyes upon 
Annie. "I did not know it would be like this," 
she said. 

"You must not tell him." 

"I must." 

"You must not, and all the more now." 
"Why, now?" 

"I am going to marry him." 

"Then he ought to know." 

"Then he ought not to know, for you have 
drawn me into your web of deceit also. He 
has talked to me about you and the book. I 
have not betrayed you. You cannot betray 
me." 

"It will kill me. I did not know it would 
be like this. I never blamed myself for any- 
thing before." 

"It will not kill you, and if it does, you must 



242 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



bear it. You must not do your husband and 
children such an awful harm." 

"Wilbur is nominated for Senator. He 
would have to give it up. He would go away 
from Fairbridge. He is very proud," said 
Margaret in a breathless voice, "but I must 
tell." 

"You cannot tell." 

"The children talk of it all the time. They 
look at me so. They wonder because they 
think I have written that book. They tell all 
the other children. Annie, I must confess to 
somebody. I did not know it would be like 
this." 

"You cannot confess to anybody except 
God," said Annie. 

"I cannot tell my husband. I cannot tell 
poor Wilbur, but I thought Mr. von Eosen 
would tell him." 

"You can not tell Mr. von Eosen. You have 
done an awful wrong, and now you can not es- 
cape the fact that you have done it. You can- 
not get away from it." 

"You are so hard." 

6 1 No, I am not hard, ' ' said Annie. 1 ' 1 did not 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 243 



betray you there before them all, and neither 
did Alice." 

"Did Alice Mendon know?" asked Margaret 
in an awful voice. 

"Yes, I had told Alice. She was so hurt for 
me that I think she might have told." 

"Then she may tell now. I will go to her." 

"She will not tell now. And I am not hard. 
It is you who are hard upon yourself and that 
nobody, least of all I, can help. You will have 
to know this dreadful thing of yourself all your 
life and you can never stop blaming yourself. 
There is no way out of it. You can not ruin 
your husband. You can not ruin your chil- 
dren's future and you cannot, after the wrong 
you have done me, put me in the wrong, as you 
would do if you told. By telling the truth, you 
would put me to the lie, when I kept silence for 
your sake and the sakes of your husband and 
children." 

"I did not know it would be like this," said 
Margaret in her desperate voice. "I had done 
nothing worth doing all my life and the hunger 
to do something had tormented me. It seemed 
easy, I did not know how I could blame myself. 



244 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

I have always thought so well of myself ; I did 
not know. Annie, for God's sake, let me tell. 
You can't know how keenly I suffer, Annie. 
Let me tell Mr. von Rosen. People always tell 
ministers. Even if he does not tell Wilbur, 
but perhaps he can tell him and soften it, it 
would be a relief. People always tell min- 
isters, Annie." 

It seemed improbable that Margaret Edes in 
her wisteria costume could be speaking. Annie 
regarded her with almost horror. She pitied 
her, yet she could not understand. Margaret 
had done something of which she herself was 
absolutely incapable. She had the right to 
throw the stone. She looked at a sinner whose 
sin was beyond her comprehension. She pitied 
the evident signs of distress, but her pity, al- 
though devoid of anger, was, in spite of herself, 
coldly wondering. Moreover, Margaret had 
been guilty in the eyes of the girl of a much 
worse sin than the mere thievery of her book; 
she had murdered love. Annie had loved Mar- 
garet greatly. No, she loved her no longer, 
since the older woman had actually blasphemed 
against the goddess whom the girl had shrined. 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 245 



Had Margaret stolen from another, it would 
have made no difference. The mere act had 
destroyed herself as an image of love. Annie, 
especially now that she was so happy, cared 
nothing for the glory of which she had been de- 
prived. She had, in truth, never had much 
hunger for fame, especially for herself. 
She did not care when she thought how pleased 
her lover would have been and her relatives, 
but already the plan for another book was in 
her brain, for the child was a creator, and no 
blow like this had any lasting power over her 
work. What she considered was Margaret's 
revelation of herself as something else than 
Margaret, and what she did resent bitterly was 
being forced into deception in order to shield 
her. She was in fact hard, although she did 
not know it. Her usually gentle nature had 
become like adamant before this. She felt un- 
like herself as she said bitterly: 

"People do not always tell ministers, and 
you cannot tell Mr. von Rosen, Mar- 
garet. I forbid it. Go home and keep 
still." 

"I cannot bear it." 



246 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



" You must bear it." 

"They are going to give me a dinner, the 
Zenith Club," said Margaret. 

"You will have to accept it." 

"I cannot, Annie Eustace, of what do you 
think me capable? I am not as bad as you 
think. I cannot and will not accept that dinner 
and make the speech which they will expect and 
hear all the congratulations which they will 
offer. I cannot." 

"You must accept the dinner, but I don't see 
that you need make the speech," said Annie, 
who was herself aghast over such extremity of 
torture. 

"I will not," said Margaret. She was very 
pale and her lips were a tight line. Her eyes 
were opaque and lustreless. She was in real- 
ity suffering what a less egotistical nature 
could not even imagine. All her life had Mar- 
garet Edes worshipped and loved Margaret 
Edes. Now she had done an awful thing. 
The falling from the pedestal of a friend is 
nothing to hurling oneself from one's height of 
self-esteem and that she had done. She stood, 
as it were, over the horrible body of her once 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 247 



beautiful and adored self. She was not actu- 
ally remorseful and that made it all the worse. 
She simply could not evade the dreadful glare 
of light upon her own imperfections; she who 
had always thought of herself as perfect, but 
the glare of knowledge came mostly from her 
appreciation of the attitude of her friends and 
lovers toward what she had done. Suppose 
she went home and told Wilbur. Suppose she 
said, "I did not write that book. My friend, 
Annie Eustace, wrote it. I am a thief, and 
worse than a thief.' 9 She knew just how he 
would look at her, his wife, his Margaret, who 
had never done wrong in his eyes. For the 
first time in her life she was afraid, and yet 
how could she live and bear such torture and 
not confess? Confession would be like a per- 
son ill unto death, giving up, and seeking the 
peace of a sick chamber and the rest of bed and 
the care of a physician. She had come to feel 
like that and yet, confession would be like a 
fiery torture. Margaret had in some almost 
insane fashion come to feel that she might con- 
fess to a minister, a man of God, and ease her 
soul, without more. And she had never been 



248 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

religions, and wonld have formerly smiled in 
serene scorn at her own state of mind. And 
here was the other woman whom she had 
wronged, forbidding her this one little possi- 
bility of comfort. 

She said again humbly, "Let me tell him, 
Annie. He will only think the more of you be- 
cause you shielded me." 

But Annie was full of scorn which Margaret 
could not understand since her nature was not 
so fine. "Do you think I wish him to?" she 
said, but in a whisper because she heard voices 
and footsteps. "You cannot tell him, Mar- 
garet." 

Then Von Eosen and Aunt Harriet, whose 
eyes were dim with recent sleep, came in sight, 
and Harriet Eustace, who had not seen Mar- 
garet since the club meeting, immediately 
seized upon her two hands and kissed her and 
congratulated her. 

"You dear, wonderful creature," she said, 
"we are all so proud of you. Fairbridge is so 
proud of you and as for us, we can only feel 
honoured that our little Annie has such a 
friend. "We trust that she will profit by your 



THE BUTTERFLY HOIISE 249 



friendship and we realise that it is such a privi- 
lege for her," 

" Thank you," said Margaret. She turned 
her head aside. It was rather dreadful, and 
Annie realised it. 

Von Rosen stood by smiling. "I am glad to 
join in the congratulations," he said. "In 
these days of many books, it is a great achieve- 
ment to have one singled out for special notice. 
I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the 
book, but shall certainly have it soon." 

"Thank you," said Margaret again. 

"She should give you an autograph copy," 
said Harriet Eustace. 

"Yes," said Margaret. She drew aside 
Annie and whispered, "I shall tell my hus- 
band then. I shall." 

Then she bade them good afternoon in her 
usually graceful way; murmured something 
about a little business which she had with 
Annie and flitted down the pergola in a cloud 
of wisteria. 

"It does seem wonderful," said Harriet 
Eustace, "that she should have written that 
book." 



250 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

Von Rosen glanced at Annie with an inquir- 
ing expression. He wondered whether she 
wished him to announce their engagement to 
her aunt. The amazing suddenness of it all 
had begun to daunt him. He was in consider- 
able doubt as to what Miss Harriet Eustace, 
who was a most conservative lady, who had al- 
ways done exactly the things which a lady 
under similar circumstances might be expected 
to do, who always said the things to be ex- 
pected, would say to this, which must, of course, 
savour very much of the unexpected. Von 
Rosen was entirely sure that Miss Harriet 
Eustace would be scarcely able to conceive of a 
marriage engagement of her niece especially 
with a clergyman without all the formal pre- 
liminaries of courtship, and he knew well that 
preliminaries had hardly existed, in the us- 
ual sense of the term. He felt absurdly shy, 
and he was very much relieved when 
finally Miss Harriet and Annie took their 
leave and he had said nothing about the en- 
gagement. Miss Harriet said a great deal 
about his most interesting and improving col- 
lection. She was a woman of a patronising 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 251 



turn of mind and she made Von Rosen feel like 
a little boy. 

"I especially appreciate the favour for the 
sake of my niece,' ' she said. "It is so desir- 
able for the minds of the young to be im- 
proved.' ' Von Rosen murmured a polite ac- 
quiescence. She had spoken of his tall, lovely 
girl as if she were in short skirts. Miss Har- 
riet continued: 

"When I consider what Mrs. Edes has 
done," she said, — "written a book which has 
made her famous, I realise how exceedingly 
important it is for the minds of the young to 
be improved. It is good for Annie to know 
Mrs. Edes so intimately, I think." 

For the first time poor Annie was conscious 
of a distinct sense of wrath. Here she herself 
had written that book and her mind, in order to 
have written it, must be every whit as improved 
as Margaret Edes' and her Aunt Harriet was 
belittling her before her lover. It was a strug- 
gle to maintain silence, especially as her aunt 
went on talking in a still more exasperating 
manner. 

"I always considered Mrs. Wilbur Edes as 



252 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



a very unusual woman,' 9 said she, "but of 
course, this was unexpected. I am so thank- 
ful that Annie has the great honour of her 
friendship. Of course, Annie can never do what 
Mrs. Edes has done. She herself knows that 
she lacks talent and also concentration. Annie, 
you know you have never finished that daisy 
centre piece which you begun surely six months 
ago. I am quite sure that Mrs. Edes would 
have finished it in a week." 

Annie did lose patience at that. "Margaret 
just loathes fancy work, Aunt Harriet," said 
she. "She would never even have begun that 
centre piece." 

"It is much better never to begin a piece of 
work than never to finish it," replied Aunt 
Harriet, "and Mrs. Edes, my dear, has been 
engaged in much more important work. If you 
had written a book which had made you fa- 
mous, no one could venture to complain of your 
lack of industry with regard to the daisy centre 
piece. But I am sure that Mrs. Edes, in order 
to have written that book of which everybody 
is talking, must have displayed much industry 
and concentration in all the minor matters of 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 253 



life. I think you must be mistaken, my dear. 
I am quite sure that Mrs. Edes has not neg- 
lected work." 

Annie made no rejoinder, but her aunt did 
not seem to notice it. 

"I am so thankful, Mr. von Eosen," said she, 
"that my niece has the honour of being counted 
among the friends of such a remarkable wo- 
man. May I inquire if Mrs. Edes has ever 
seen your really extraordinary collection, Mr. 
von Eosen." 

"No, she has not seen it," replied Von Eosen, 
and he looked annoyed. Without in the least 
understanding the real trend of the matter, he 
did not like to hear his sweetheart addressed 
after such a fashion, even though he had no 
inkling of the real state of affairs. To his 
mind, this exquisite little Annie, grimy daisy 
centre piece and all, had accomplished much 
more in simply being herself, than had Mar- 
garet Edes with her much blazoned book. 

"I trust that she will yet see it," said Miss; 
Harriet Eustace. Harriet Eustace was tall, dull 
skinned and wide mouthed, and she had a fash- 
ion, because she had been told from childhood 



254 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

that her mouth was wide, of constantly pucker- 
ing it as if she were eating alum. 

"I shall be of course pleased to show Mrs. 
Edes my collection at any time," said Von 
Rosen politely. 

"I hope she will see it," said Harriet, puck- 
ering, "it is so improving, and if anything is 
improving to the ordinary mind, what must it 
be to the mind of genius?" 

The two took leave then, Annie walking be- 
hind her aunt. The sidewalk which was en- 
croached upon by grass was very narrow. 
Annie did not speak at all. She heard her aunt 
talking incessantly without realising the sub- 
stance of what she said. Her own brain was 
overwhelmed with bewilderment and happiness. 
Here was she, Annie Eustace, engaged to be 
married and to the right man. The combina- 
tion was astounding. Annie had been con- 
scious ever since she had first seen him, that 
Karl von Rosen dwelt at the back of her 
thoughts, but she was rather a well disciplined 
girl. She had not allowed herself the luxury 
of any dreams concerning him and herself. 
She had not considered the possibility of his 



rTHE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 255 



caring for her, not because she underestimated 
herself, but because she overestimated him. 
Now, she knew he cared, he cared, and he 
wanted to marry her, to make her his wife. 
After she had reached home, when they were 
seated at the tea table, she did not think of tell- 
ing anybody. She ate and felt as if she were 
in a blissful crystal sphere of isolation. It did 
not occur to her to reveal her secret until she 
went into her grandmother's room rather late 
to bid her good night. Annie had been sitting 
by herself on the front piazza and allowing her- 
self a perfect feast in future air-castles. She 
could see from where she sat, the lights from 
the windows of the Edes' house, and she heard 
"Wilbur's voice, and now and then his laugh. 
Margaret's voice, she never heard at all. 
Annie went into the chamber, the best in the 
house, and there lay her grandmother, old Ann 
Maria Eustace, propped up in bed, reading a 
novel which was not allowed in the Fairbridge 
library. She had bidden Annie buy it for her, 
when she last went to New York. 

"I wouldn't ask a girl to buy such a book," 
the old lady had said, "but nobody will know 



256 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

you and I have read so many notices about its 
wickedness, I want to see it for myself.' ' 

Now she looked up when Annie entered. 
"It is not wicked at all," she said in rather a 
disappointed tone. "It is much too dull. In 
order to make a book wicked, it must be, at 
least, somewhat entertaining. The writer 
speaks of wicked things, but in such a very 
moral fashion that it is all like a sermon. I 
don't like the book at all. At the same time a 
girl like you had better not read it and you had 
better see that Harriet and Susan don't get a 
glimpse of it. They would be set into fits. It 
is a strange thing that both my daughters 
should be such old maids to the bone and mar- 
row. You can read it though if you wish, 
Annie. I doubt if you understand the wicked- 
ness anyway, and I don't want you to grow up 
straight-laced like Harriet and Susan. It is 
really a misfortune. They lose a lot." 

Then Annie spoke. "I shall not be an old 
maid, I think," said she. "I am going to be 
married. ' 9 

" Married! Who is going to marry you? I 
haven't seen a man in this house except the 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 257 

doctor and the minister for the last twenty; 
years." 

"I am going to marry the minister, Mr. von 
Rosen." 

"Lord," said Annie's grandmother, and 
stared at her. She was a queer looking old lady 
propped up on a flat pillow with her wicked 
book. She had removed the front-piece which 
she wore by day and her face showed large and 
rosy between the frills of her night cap. Her 
china blue eyes were exceedingly keen and 
bright. Her mouth as large as her daughter 
Harriet's, not puckered at all, but frankly open 
in an alarming slit, in her amazement. 

"When for goodness sake has the man 
courted you?" she burst forth at last. 

"I don't know." 

"Well, I don't know, if you don't. Tou 
haven't been meeting him outside the house. 
No, you have not. You are a lady, if you have 
been brought up by old maids, who tell lies 
about spades." 

"I did not know until this afternoon," said 
Annie. "Mr. von Rosen and I went out to see 
his rose-garden, while Aunt Harriet — " 



258 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Then the old lady shook the bed with mirth. 

"I see," said she. "Harriet is scared to 
death of roses and she went to sleep in the 
house and you got your chance. Good for you. 
I am thankful the Eustace family won't quite 
sputter out in old maids." The old lady con- 
tinued to chuckle. Annie feared lest her aunts 
might hear. Beside the bed stood a table with 
the collection of things which was Ann Maria 
Eustace's nightly requirement. There were a 
good many things. First was a shaded read- 
ing lamp, then a candle and a matchbox ; there 
was a plate of thin bread and butter carefully 
folded in a napkin. A glass of milk, covered 
with a glass dish ; two bottles of medicine ; two 
spoons; a saucer of sugared raspberries; ex- 
actly one square inch of American cheese on a 
tiny plate ; a pitcher of water, carefully covered ; 
a tumbler ; a glass of port wine and a bottle of 
camphor. Old Ann Maria Eustace took most 
of her sustenance at night. Night was really 
her happy time. When that worn, soft old 
bulk of hers was ensconsed among her soft pil- 
lows and feather bed and she had her eatables 
and drinkables and literature at hand, she was 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE . 259 

in her happiest mood and she was none the less 
happy from the knowledge that her daughters 
considered that any well conducted old woman 
should have beside her bed, merely a stand with 
a fair linen cloth, a glass of water, a candle 
and the Good Book, and that if she could not 
go immediately to sleep, she should lie quietly 
and say over texts and hymns to herself. All 
Ann Maria's spice of life was got from a hid- 
den antagonism to her daughters and quietly 
flying in the face of their prejudices, and she 
was the sort of old lady who could hardly have 
lived at all without spice. 

"Your Aunt Harriet will be hopping,' ' said 
the perverse old lady with another chuckle. 

"Why, grandmother ?" 

"Harriet has had an eye on him herself. 1 9 

Annie gasped. "Aunt Harriet must be at 
least twenty-five years older/ ' said she. 

"Hm," said the old lady, "that doesn't 
amount to anything. Harriet didn't put on 
her pearl breast-pin and crimp her hair unless 
she had something in her mind. Susan has 
given up, but Harriet hasn't given up." 

Annie still looked aghast. 



260 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"When are yon going to get married V 9 
asked the old lady. 
"I don't know." 

"Haven't settled that yet? Well, when you 
do, there's the white satin embroidered with 
white roses that I was married in and my old 
lace veil. I think he's a nice young man. All 
I have against him is his calling. You will 
have to go to meeting whether you want to or 
not and listen to the same man's sermons. 
But he is good looking and they say he has 
money, and anyway, the Eustaces won't peter 
out in old maids. There's one thing I am 
sorry about. Sunday is going to be a pretty 
long day for me, after you are married, and I 
suppose before. If you are going to marry 
that man, I suppose you will have to begin go- 
ing to meeting at once." 

Then Annie spoke decidedly. "I am always 
going to play pinocle with you Sunday fore- 
noons as long as you live, grandmother," said 
she. 

"After you are married?" 
"Yes, I am." 

"After you are married to a minister?" 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 261 



"Yes, grandmother." 

The old lady sat up straight and eyed Annie 
with her delighted china bine gaze. 

"Mr. von Eosen is a lucky man," said she, 
"Enough sight luckier than he knows. You 
are just like me, Annie Eustace, and your 
grandfather set his eyes by me as long as he 
lived. A good woman who has sense enough 
not to follow all the rules and precepts and 
keep good, isn't found every day, and she can 
hold a man and holding a man is about as tough 
a job as the Almighty ever set a woman. I've 
got a pearl necklace and a ring in the bank. 
Harriet has always wanted them but what is 
the use of a born old maid decking herself out? 
I always knew Harriet and Susan would be old 
maids. Why, they would never let their doll- 
babies be seen without all their clothes on, 
seemed to think there was something indecent 
about cotton cloth legs stuffed with sawdust. 
When you see a little girl as silly as that you 
can always be sure she is cut out for an old 
maid. I don't care when you get married — 
just as soon as you want to — and you shall 
have a pretty wedding and you shall 



262 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



have your wedding cake made after my old re- 
cipe. You are a good girl, Annie. You look 
like me. You are enough sight better than you 
would be if you were better, and you can make 
what you can out of that. Now, you must go 
to bed. You haven't told Harriet and Susan 
yet, have you?" 

"No, grandmother." 

"I'll tell them myself in the morning," said 
the old lady with a chuckle which made her 
ancient face a mask of mirth and mischief. 
"Now, you run along and go to bed. This book 
is dull, but I want to see how wicked the writer 
tried to make it and the heroine is just making 
an awful effort to run away with a married 
man. She won't succeed, but I want to see how 
near she gets to it. Good-night, Annie. You 
can have the book to-morrow." 

Annie went to her own room but she made no 
preparation for bed. She had planned to work 
as she had worked lately until nearly morning. 
She was hurrying to complete another book 
which she had begun before Margaret Edes* 
announcement that she had written The Poor 
Lady. The speedy completion of this book had 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 263 



been the condition of secrecy with her publish- 
ers. However, Annie, before she lit the lamp 
on her table could not resist the desire to sit 
for a minute beside her window and gaze out 
upon the lovely night and revel in her wonder- 
ful happiness. The night was lovely enough 
for anyone, and for a girl in the rapture of her 
first love, it was as beautiful as heaven. The 
broad village gleaming like silver in the moon- 
light satisfied her as well as a street of gold 
and the tree shadows waved softly over every- 
thing like wings of benediction. Sweet odours 
came in her face. She could see the soft pallor 
of a clump of lilies in the front yard. The 
shrilling of the night insects seemed like the 
calls of prophets of happiness. The lights had 
gone out of the windows of the Edes 9 house, but 
suddenly she heard a faint, very faint, but very 
terrible cry and a white figure rushed out of 
the Edes' gate. Annie did not wait a second. 
She was up, out of her room, sliding down the 
stair banisters after the habit of her childhood 
and after it. 



CHAPTER IX 



Maegaeet Edes, light and slender and stipple 
as she was, and moreover rendered swift with 
the terrible spur of hysteria, was no match for 
Annie Eustace who had the build of a racing 
human, being long-winded and limber. Annie 
caught up with her, just before they reached 
Alice Mendon's house, and had her held by one 
arm. Margaret gave a stifled shriek. Even in 
hysteria, she did not quite lose her head. She 
had unusual self-control. 

"Let me go," she gasped. Annie saw that 
Margaret carried a suit-case, which had prob- 
ably somewhat hindered her movements. "Let 
me go, I shall miss the ten-thirty train," Mar- 
garet said in her breathless voice. 

"Where are you going?" 

"I am going." 

"Where?" 

"Anywhere^away from it all." 
The two struggled together as far as Alice's 
gate, and to Annie's great relief, a tall figure 

264 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 265 



appeared, Alice herself. She opened the gate 
and came on Margaret's other side. 

"What is the matter?" she asked. 

"I am going to take the ten-thirty train,' * 
said Margaret. 

" Where are yon going?" 

"To New York." 

"Where in New York?" 

"I am going." 

"Yon are not going," said Alice Mendon; 
"you will return quietly to your own home like 
a sensible woman. You are running away, and 
you know it." 

"Yes, I am," said Margaret in her desper- 
ate voice. "You would run away if you were 
in my place, Alice Mendon." 

"I could never be in your place," said Alice, 
"but if I were, I should stay and face the situa- 
tion." She spoke with quite undisguised scorn 
and yet with pity. 

"You must think of your husband and chil- 
dren and not entirely of yourself," she added. 

"If," said Margaret, stammering as she 
spoke, "I tell Wilbur, I think it will kill him. 
If I tell the children, they will never really 



266 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



have a mother again. They will never forget. 
But if I do not tell, I shall not have myself. It 
is a horrible thing not to have yourself, Alice 
Mendon." 
" It is the only way. 9 9 

"It is easy for you to talk, Alice Mendon. 
iYou have never been tempted." 

"No," replied Alice, "that is quite true. I 
have never been tempted because — I cannot be 
tempted." 

"It is no credit to you. You were made 
so." 

"Yes, that is true also. I was made so. It 
is no credit to me." 

Margaret tried to wrench her arm free from 
Annie's grasp. 

"Let me go, Annie Eustace," she said. "I 
hate you." 

"I don't care if you do," replied Annie. "I 
don't love you any more myself. I don't hate 
you, but I certainly don't love you." 

"I stole your laurels," said Margaret, and 
she seemed to snap out the words. 

"You could have had the laurels," said 
Annie, "without stealing, if I could have given 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 267 



them to you. It is not the laurels that matter. 
It is you." 

"I will kill myself if it ever is known," said 
Margaret in a low horrified whisper. She 
cowered. 

"It will never be known unless you yourself 
tell it, ' ' said Annie. 

"I cannot tell," said Margaret. "I have 
thought it all over. I canot tell and yet, how 
can I live and not tell?" 

"I suppose," said Alice Mendon, "that al- 
ways when people do wrong, they have to endure 
punishment. I suppose that is your punish- 
ment, Margaret. You have always loved your- 
self and now you will have to despise yourself. 
I don't see any way out of it." 

"I am not the only woman who does such 
things," said Margaret, and there was defiance 
in her tone. 

"No doubt, you have company," said Alice. 
"That does not make it easier for you." 
Alice, large and fair in her white draperies, 
towered over Margaret Edes like an embodied 
conscience. She was almost unendurable, like 
the ideal of which the other woman had fallen 



268 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



short. Her mere presence was maddening. 
Margaret actually grimaced at her. 

"It is easy for you to preach," said she," very 
easy, Alice Mendon. You have not a nerve in 
your whole body. You have not an ungrati- 
fied ambition. You neither love nor hate your- 
self, or other people. You want nothing on 
earth enough to make the lack of it disturb 
you." 

"How well you read me," said Alice and she 
smiled a large calm smile as a statue might 
smile, could she relax her beautiful marble 
mouth. 

"And as for Annie Eustace," said Margaret, 
"she has what I stole, and she knows it, and 
that is enough for her. Oh, both of you look 
down upon me and I know it." 

"I look down upon you no more than I have 
always done, ' ' said Alice ; but Annie was silent 
because she could not say that truly. 

"Yes, I know you have always looked down 
upon me, Alice Mendon," said Margaret, "and 
you never had reason." 

"I had the reason," said Alice, "that your 
own deeds have proved true." 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 269 



"You could not know that I would do such a 
thing. I did not know it myself. Why, I 
never knew that Annie Eustace could write a 
book." 

"I knew that a self -lover could do anything 
and everything to further her own ends," said 
Alice in her inexorable voice, which yet con- 
tained an undertone of pity. 

She pitied Margaret far more than Annie 
could pity her for she had not loved her so 
much. She felt the little arm tremble in her 
clasp and her hand tightened upon it as a 
mother's might have done. 

"Now, we have had enough of this," said 
she, "quite enough. Margaret, you must posi- 
tively go home at once. I will take your suit- 
case, and return it to you to-morrow. I shall 
be out driving. You can get in without being 
seen, can't you?" 

"I tell you both, I am going," said Margaret; 
"I cannot face what is before me." 

"All creation has to face what is before. 
Eunning makes no difference," said Alice. 
"You will meet it at the end of every mile. 
Margaret Edes, go home. Take care of your 



270 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



husband, and your children and keep your se- 
cret and let it tear you for your own good." 

"They are to nominate Wilbur for Senator," 
said Margaret. "If they knew, if he knew, 
"Wilbur would not run. He has always had am- 
bition. I should kill it." 

"You will not kill it," said Alice. "Here, 
give me that suit-case, I will set it inside the 
gate here. Now Annie and I will walk with 
you and you must steal in and not wake any- 
body and go to bed and to sleep." 

"To sleep," repeated Margaret bitterly. 

"Then not to sleep, but you must go." 

The three passed down the moon-silvered 
road. When they had reached Margaret's 
door, Alice suddenly put an arm around her 
and kissed her. 

"Go in as softly as you can, and to bed," she 
whispered. 

"What made you do that, Alice?" asked 
Annie in a small voice when the door had closed 
behind Margaret. 

"I think I am beginning to love her," whis- 
pered Alice. "Now you know what we must 
do, Annie?" 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 271 



"What?" 

"We must both watch until dawn, until after 
that train to New York which stops here at 
three-thirty. You must stand here and I will 
go to the other door. Thank God, there are 
only two doors, and I don't think she will try 
the windows because she won't suspect our be- 
ing here. But I don't trust her, poor thing. 
She is desperate. You stay here, Annie. Sit 
down close to the door and — you won't be 
afraid!" 

"Oh, no!" 

"Of course, there is nothing to be afraid of," 
said Alice. "Now I will go to the other door." 

Annie sat there until the moon sank. She 
did not feel in the least sleepy. She sat there 
and counted up her joys of life and almost for- 
got poor Margaret who had trampled hers in 
the dust raised by her own feet of self-seeking. 
Then came the whistle and roar of a train and 
Alice stole around the house. 

"It is safe enough for us to go now," said 
she. "That was the last train. Do you think 
you can get in your house without waking any- 
body!" 



272 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



" There is no danger unless I wake grand- 
mother. She wakes very early of herself and 
she may not be asleep and her hearing is very 
quick. 

"What will she say?" 

"I think I can manage her." 

"Well, we must hurry. It is lucky that my 
room is away from the others or I should not 
be sure of getting there unsuspected. Hurry, 
Annie." 

The two sped swiftly and noiselessly down 
the street, which was now very dark. The vil- 
lage houses seemed rather awful with their 
dark windows like sightless eyes. When they 
reached Annie's house Alice gave her a swift 
kiss. "Good-night," she whispered. 

"Alice." 

"Well, little Annie?" 

"I am going to be married, to Mr. Von 
Rosen." 

Alice started ever so slightly. "You are a 
lucky girl," she whispered, "and he is a lucky 
man." 

Alice flickered out of sight down the street 
like a white moonbeam and Annie stole into 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 273 



the house. She dared not lock the door behind 
her lest she arouse somebody. She tip-toed 
upstairs, but as she was passing her grand- 
mother's door, it was opened, and the old wo- 
man stood there, her face lit by her flaring 
candle. 

"You just march right in here," said she so 
loud that Annie shuddered for fear she 
would arouse the whole house. She followed 
her grandmother into her room and the old wo- 
man turned and looked at her, and her face was 
white. 

"Where have you been, Miss?" said she. 
"It is after three o'clock in the morning." 

"I had to go, grandmother, and there was 
no harm, but I can't tell you. Indeed, I can't," 
replied Annie, trembling. 

"Why can't you? I'd like to know." 

"I can't, indeed, I can't, grandmother." 

"Why not, I'd like to know. Pretty doings, 
I call it." 

"I can't tell you why not, grandmother." 

The old woman eyed the girl. "Out with a 
man — I don't care if you are engaged to him 
— till this time!" said she. 



274 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



Annie started and crimsoned. "Oh, grand- 
mother !" she cried. 

"I don't care if he is a minister. I am going 
to see him to-morrow, no, to-day, right after 
breakfast and give him a piece of my mind. I 
don't care what he thinks of me." 

"Grandmother, there wasn't any man." 

"Are you telling me the truth?" 

"I always tell the truth." 

"Yes, I think you always have since that 
time when you were a little girl and I spanked 
you for lying," said the old woman. "I rather 
think you do tell the truth, but sometimes when 
a girl gets a man into her head, she goes round 
like a top. You haven't been alone, you needn't 
tell me that." 

"No, I haven't been alone." 

"But, he wasn't with you? There wasn't 
any man?" 

"No, there was not any man, grandmother." 

"Then you had better get into your own 
room as fast as you can and move still or you 
will wake up Harriet and Susan." 

Annie went. 

"I am thankful I am not curious," said the 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 275 



old woman clambering back into bed. She lit 
her lamp and took up her novel again. 

The next morning old Ann Maria Eustace 
announced her granddaughter's engagement at 
the breakfast table. She waited until the meal 
was in full swing, then she raised her voice. 

"Well, girls," she said, looking first at Har- 
riet, then at Susan, "I have some good news 
for you. Our little Annie here is too modest, 
so I have to tell you for her." 

Harriet Eustace laughed unsuspiciously. 
"Don't tell us that Annie has been writing a 
great anonymous novel like Margaret Edes," 
she said, and Susan laughed also. "Whatever 
news it may be, it is not that," she said. "No- 
body could suspect Annie of writing a book. 
I myself was not so much surprised at Mar- 
garet Edes." 

To Annie's consternation, her grandmother 
turned upon her a long, slow, reading look. 
She flushed under it and swallowed a spoon- 
ful of cereal hastily. Then her grandmother 
chuckled under her breath and her china blue 
eyes twinkled. 

"Annie has done something a deal better 



276 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



than to write a book," said she, looking away 
from the girl, and fixing unsparing eyes upon 
her daughters. ' 6 She has found a nice man to 
marry her." 

Harriet and Susan dropped their spoons and 
stared at their mother. 

"Mother, what are you talking about?" said 
Harriet sharply. "She has had no attention." 

6 1 Sometimes, 9 ' drawled the old lady in a way 
she affected when she wished to be exasperat- 
ing, "sometimes, a little attention is so strong 
that it counts and sometimes attention is at- 
tention when nobody thinks it is." 

"Who is it?" asked Harriet in rather a hard 
voice. Susan regarded Annie with a bewil- 
dered, yet kindly smile. Poor Susan had never 
regarded the honey pots of life as intended 
for herself, and thus could feel a kindly interest 
in their acquisition by others. 

"My granddaughter is engaged to be mar- 
ried to Mr. von Rosen," said the old lady. 
Then she stirred her coffee assiduously. 

Susan rose and kissed Annie. "I hope you 
will be happy, very happy," she said in an 
awed voice. Harriet rose, to follow her sis- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 277 



ter's example but she looked viciously at her 
mother, 

" He is a good ten years older than Annie," 
she said. 

"And a good twenty-five younger than you," 
said the old lady, and sipped her coffee deli- 
cately. "He is just the right age for Annie." 

Harriet kissed Annie, but her lips were cold 
and Annie wondered. It never occurred to her 
then, nor later, to imagine that her Aunt Har- 
riet might have had her own dreams which 
had never entirely ended in rainbow mists. 
She did not know how hardly dreams die. 
They are sometimes not entirely stamped out 
during a long lifetime. 

That evening Von Rosen came to call on 
Annie and she received him alone in the best 
parlour. She felt embarrassed and shy, but 
very happy. Her lover brought her an engage- 
ment ring, a great pearl, which had been his 
mother's and put it on her finger, and Annie 
eyed her finger with a big round gaze like a 
bird's. Von Rosen laughed at the girl holding 
up her hand and staring at the beringed finger. 

"Don't you like it, dear?" he said. 



278 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"It is the most beautiful ring I ever saw," 
said Annie, "but I keep thinking it may not 
be true." 

"The truest things in the world are the 
things which do not seem so," he said, and 
caught up the slender hand and kissed the ring 
and the finger. 

Margaret on the verandah had seen Von 
Rosen enter the Eustace house and had guessed 
dully at the reason. She had always thought 
that Von Rosen would eventually marry Alice 
Mendon and she wondered a little, but not much. 
Her own affairs were entirely sufficient to oc- 
cupy her mind. Her position had become more 
impossible to alter and more ghastly. That 
night Wilbur had brought home a present to 
celebrate her success. It was something which 
she had long wanted and which she knew he 
could ill afford: — a circlet of topazes for 
her hair. She kissed him and put it on to 
please him, but it was to her as if she were 
crowned because of her infamy and she longed 
to snatch the thing off and trample it. And 
yet always she was well aware that it was not 
remorse which she felt, but a miserable humilia- 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 279 



tion that she, Margaret Edes, should have cause 
for remorse. The whole day had been hideous. 
The letters and calls of congratulation had been 
incessant. There were brief notices in a few 
papers which had been marked and sent to her 
and Wilbur had brought them home also. Her 
post-office box had been crammed. There were 
requests for her autograph. There were re- 
quests for aid from charitable institutions. 
There were requests for advice and assistance 
from young authors. She had two packages 
of manuscripts sent her for inspection concern- 
ing their merits. One was a short story, and 
came through the mail; one was a book and 
came by express. She had requests for work 
from editors and publishers. Wilbur had 
brought a letter of congratulation from his 
partner. It was absolutely impossible for her 
to draw back except for that ignoble reason: 
the reinstatement of herself in her own esteem. 
She could not possibly receive all this unde- 
served adulation and retain her self esteem. 
It was all more than she had counted upon. 
She had opened Pandora's box with a ven- 
geance and the stinging things swarmed over 



280 THE BUTTEKFLY HOUSE 



her. Wilbur sat on the verandah with her and 
scarcely took his eyes of adoring wonder from 
her face. She had sent the little girls to bed 
early. They had told all their playmates and 
talked incessantly with childish bragging. 
They seemd to mock her as with peacock eyes, 
symbolic of her own vanity. 

"You sent the poor little things to bed very 
early," Wilbur said. "They did so enjoy talk- 
ing over their mother's triumph. It is the 
greatest day of their lives, you know, Mar- 
garet." 

"I am tired of it," Margaret said sharply, 
but Wilbur's look of worship deepened. 

"You are so modest, sweetheart," he said and 
Margaret writhed. Poor Wilbur had been 
reading The Poor Lady instead of his beloved 
newspapers and now and then he quoted a pas- 
sage which he remembered, with astonishing ac- 
curacy. 

"Say, darling, you are a marvel," he would 
remark after every quotation. "Now, how in 
the world did you ever manage to think that 
up? I suppose just this minute, as you sit 
there looking so sweet in your white dress, just 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 281 



such things are floating through your brain, 
eh!" 

"No, they are not," replied Margaret. Oh, 
if she had only understood the horrible depth 
of a lie ! 

"Suppose Von Eosen is making up to little 
Annie?" said Wilbur presently. 
"I don't know." 

"Well, she is a nice little thing, sweet tem- 
pered, and pretty, although of course her men- 
tal calibre is limited. She may make a good 
wife, though. A man doesn't expect his wife 
always to set the river on fire as you have done, 
sweetheart." 

Then Wilbur fished from his pockets a lot 
of samples. "Thought I must order a new 
suit, to live up to my wife," he said. "See 
which you prefer, Margaret." 

"I should think your own political outlook 
would make the new suit necessary," said Mar- 
garet tartly. 

"Not a bit of it. Get more votes if you look 
a bit shabby from the sort who I expect may 
get me the office," laughed Wilbur. "This 
new suit is simply to enable me to look worthy, 



282 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



as far as my clothes are concerned, of my 
famous wife." 

"I think you have already clothes enough," 
said Margaret coldly. 

Wilbur looked hurt. "Doesn't make much 
difference how the old man looks, does it, 
dear?" said he. 

"Let me see the samples," Margaret re- 
turned with an effort. There were depths be- 
yond depths ; there were bottomless quicksands 
in a lie. How could she have known? 

That night Wilbur looked into his wife's bed- 
room at midnight. "Awake?" he asked in his 
monosyllabic fashion. 

"Yes." 

"Say, old girl, Von Eosen has just this min- 
ute gone. Guess it's a match fast enough." 

"I always thought it would be Alice," re- 
turned Margaret wearily. Love affairs did 
seem so trivial to her at this juncture. 

"Alice Mendon has never cared a snap about 
getting married any way," returned Wilbur. 
"Some women are built that way. She is." 

Margaret did not inquire how he knew. If 
Wilbur had told her that he had himself asked 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 283 



Alice in marriage, it would have been as if she 
had not heard. All such things seemed very 
unimportant to her in the awful depths of her 
lie. She said good-night in answer to Wilbur's 
and again fell to thinking. There was no way- 
out, absolutely no way. She must live and die 
with this secret self-knowledge which abased 
her, gnawing at the heart. Wilbur had told 
her that he believed that her authorship of The- 
Poor Lady might be the turning point of his 
election. She was tongue-tied in a horrible 
spiritual sense. She was disfigured for the rest 
of her life and she could never once turn away 
her eyes from her disfigurement. 

The light from Annie Eustace's window 
shone in her room for two hours after that. 
She wondered what she was doing and guessed 
Annie was writing a new novel to take the place 
of the one of which she had robbed her. An 
acute desire which was like a pain to be herself 
the injured instead of the injurer possessed her. 
Oh, what would it mean to be Annie sitting 
there, without leisure to brood over her new 
happiness, working, working, into the morning 
hours and have nothing to look upon except 



284 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



moral and physical beauty in her mental look- 
ing-glass. She envied the poor girl, who was 
really working beyond her strength, as she had 
never envied any human being. The envy 
stung her, and she could not sleep. The. next 
morning she looked ill and then she had to en- 
dure Wilbur's solicitude. 

"Poor girl, you overworked writing your 
splendid book," he said. Then he suggested 
that she spend a month at an expensive sea- 
shore resort and another horror was upon Mar- 
garet. Wilbur, she well knew, could not afford 
to send her to such a place, but was innocently, 
albeit rather shamefacedly, assuming that she 
could defray her own expenses from the reve- 
nue of her book. He would never call her to 
account as to what she had done with the wealth 
which he supposed her to be reaping. She was 
well aware of that, but he would naturally won- 
der within himself. Any man would. She 
said that she was quite well, that she hated a 
big hotel, and much preferred home during the 
hot season, but she heard the roar of these new 
breakers. How could she have dreamed of the 
lifelong disturbance which a lie could cause? 



THE BUTTEEFLY HOUSE 285 

Night after night she saw the light in Annie 's 
windows and she knew what she was doing. 
She knew why she was not to be married until 
next winter. That book had to be written first. 
Poor Annie could not enjoy her romance to the 
full because of over-work. The girl lost flesh 
and Margaret knew why. Preparing one's 
trousseau, living in a love affair, and writing 
a book, are rather strenuous, when undertaken 
at the same time. 

It was February when Annie and Von Eosen 
were married and the wedding was very quiet. 
Annie had over-worked, but her book was pub- 
lished, and was out-selling The Poor Lady. It 
also was published anonymously, but Margaret 
knew, she knew even from the reviews. Then 
she bought the book and read it and was con- 
vinced. The book was really an important 
work. The writer had gone far beyond her 
first flight, but there was something unmistak- 
able about the style to such a jealous reader as 
Margaret. Annie had her success after all. 
She wore her laurels, although unseen of men, 
with her orange blossoms. Margaret saw in 
every paper, in great headlines, the notice of 



286 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



the great seller. The best novel for a twelve- 
month — The Firm Hand. Wilbur talked much 
about it. He had his election. He was a Sena- 
tor, and was quietly proud of it, but nothing 
mattered to him as much as Margaret's book. 
That meant more than his own success. 

"I have read that novel they are talking so 
much about and it cannot compare with yours,' ' 
he told her. "The publishers ought to push 
yours a little more. Do you think I ought to 
look in on them and have a little heart-to-heart 
talk?" 

Margaret's face was ghastly. "Don't do 
anything of the sort," she said. 

"Well, I won't if you don't want me to, 
but—" 

"I most certainly don't want you to." Then 
Margaret never had a day of peace. She 
feared lest Wilbur, who seemed nightly more 
incensed at the flaming notices of The Firm 
Hand might, in spite of her remonstrances, go 
to see the publishers, and would they keep the 
secret if he did? 

Margaret continued to live as she had done 
before. That was part of the horror. She 



THE BUTTEEFLT HOUSE 287 



dared not resign from the Zenith Club. How- 
ever, she came in time to get a sort of comfort 
from it. Meeting all those members, presiding 
over the meetings, became a sort of secret flag- 
ellation, which served as a counter irritation, 
for her tormented soul. All those women 
thought well of her. They admired her. The 
acute torture which she derived from her 
knowledge of herself, as compared with their 
opinion of her, seemed at times to go a little 
way toward squaring her account with her bet- 
ter self. And the club also seemd to rouse 
within her a keener vitality of her better self. 
Especially when the New Year came and Mrs. 
Slade was elected president in her stead. Once, 
Margaret would have been incapable of accept- 
ing that situation so gracefully. She gave a 
reception to Mrs. Slade in honour of her elec- 
tion, and that night had a little return of her 
lost peace. Then during one of the meetings, 
a really good paper was read, which set her 
thinking. That evening she played dominoes 
with Maida and Adelaide, and always after that 
a game followed dinner. The mother became 
intimate with her children. She really loved 



288 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

them because of her loss of love for herself, 
and because the heart must hold love. She 
loved her husband too, but he realised no dif- 
ference because he had loved her. That cold- 
ness had had no headway against such doting 
worship. But the children realised. 

"Mamma is so much better since she wrote 
that book that I shall be glad when you are old 
enough to write a book too," Adelaide said 
once to Maida. 

But always Margaret suffered horribly, al- 
though she gave no sign. She took care of her 
beauty. She was more particular than ever 
about her dress. She entertained, she accepted 
every invitation, and they multiplied since Wil- 
bur's flight in politics and her own reputed 
authorship. She was Spartan in her courage, 
but she suffered, because she saw herself as she 
was and she had so loved herself. It was not 
until Annie Eustace was married that she ob- 
tained the slightest relief. Then she ascer- 
tained that the friend whom she had robbed of 
her laurels had obtained a newer and greener 
crown of them. She went to the wedding and 
saw on a table, Annie's new book. She glanced 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 289 



at it and she knew and she wondered if Von 
Eosen knew. He did not. 

Annie waited until after their return from 
their short wedding journey when they were 
settled in their home. Then one evening, 
seated with her husband before the fire in the 
study, with the yellow cat in her lap, and the 
bull terrier on the rug, his white skin rosy in 
the firelight, she said : 

"Karl, I have something to tell yon.'" 
Von Eosen looked lovingly at her. "Well, 
'dear?" 

"It is nothing, only yon must not tell, for the 
publishers insist upon its being anonymous, I 
^-wrote The Firm Hand." 

Von Eosen made a startled exclamation and 
looked at Annie and she could not understand 
the look. 

1 1 Are yon displeased ? ' 9 she faltered. 1 1 Don 't 
yon like me to write ? I will never neglect you 
or our home because of it. Indeed I will not." 

"Displeased," said Von Eosen. He got up 
and deliberately knelt before her. "I am 
proud that you are my wife," he said, "prouder 
than I am of anything else in the world." 



290 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 



"Please get up, dear," said Annie, "but I 
am so glad, although it is really I who am 
proud, because I have you for my husband, I 
feel all covered over with peacock's eyes." 

"I cannot imagine a human soul less like a 
peacock," said Von Eosen. He put his arms 
around her as he knelt, and kissed her, and the 
yellow cat gave an indignant little snarl and 
jumped down. He was jealous. 

"Sit down," said Annie, laughing. "I 
thought the time had come to tell you and I 
hoped you would be pleased. It is lovely, isn't 
it? You know it is selling wonderfully." 

"It is lovely," said Von Rosen. "It would 
have been lovely anyway, but your success is a 
mighty sweet morsel for me." 

"You had better go back to your chair and 
smoke and I will read to you," said Annie. 

"Just as if you had not written a successful 
novel," said Von Rosen. But he obeyed, the 
more readily because he knew, and pride and 
reverence for his wife fairly dazed him. Von 
Rosen had been more acute than the critics and 
Annie had written at high pressure, and one 
can go over a book a thousand times and be 



THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 291 

blind to things which should be seen. She had 
repeated one little sentence which she had writ- 
ten in The Poor Lady. Von Eosen knew, but 
he never told her that he knew. He bowed be- 
fore her great, generous silence as he would 
have bowed before a shrine, but he knew that 
she had written The Poor Lady, and had al- 
lowed Margaret Edes to claim unquestioned the 
honour of her work. 

As they sat there, Annie's Aunt Susan came 
in and sat with them. She talked a good deal 
about the wedding presents. Wedding pres- 
ents were very wonderful to her. They were 
still spread out, most of them on tables in the 
parlour because all Fairbridge was interested 
in viewing them. After a while Susan went 
into the parlour and gloated over the presents. 
"When she came back, she wore a slightly dis- 
gusted expression. 

"You have beautiful presents," said she, 
"but I have been looking all around and the 
presents are not all on those tables, are they?" 

"No," said Annie. 

Von Eosen laughed. He knew what was com- 
ing, or thought that he did. 



292 THE BUTTERFLY HOUSE 

"I see," said Aunt Susan, "that you have 
forty-two copies of Margaret Edes' book, The 
Poor Lady, and I have always thought it was 
a very silly book, and you can't exchange them 
for every single one is autographed." 

It was quite true. Poor Margaret Edes had 
autographed the forty-two. She had not even 
dreamed of the incalculable depths of a lie. 



THE END 



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